Dennis Taylor – Steppin’ Up

January 01, 1970

(Kizybosh Records)

Dennis Taylor’s role as saxophonist with Delbert McClinton’s
backing band gave him opportunity for creative expression, but when he opted to
take a solo spin, he was able to realize his goal of making an individual
imprint. Enlisting McClinton’s organist Kevin McKendree, the two ensconced
themselves in a Nashville
studio with a rotating drum stable consisting of Chester Thompson, Kenneth
Blevins and Lynn Williams and recorded a definitive instrumental album that
recalls the spirited sound of Hank Crawford and Jimmy McGriff’s duets, without
compromising this duo’s collective identity.


The result is a set of standards – along with a handful of Taylor originals – that
relies solely on the interplay between Taylor, McKendree and their drummers of
choice. It’s a pop/jazz hybrid that rarely pushes parameters, but still
redefines the material with a distinctive sound. Taylor’s not necessarily an adventurous
player, but his lyrical expression plays well over McKendree’s solid keyboard
cushioning. He also manages to inject his particular personality as expressed
through the sprightly Dixieland shuffle of his “Lee’s Lick,” the darker
dimensions of Mac Rebennack’s “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” and the searing take
on the standard “Since I Fell For You,” featuring a cameo vocal from their
boss, Mr. McClinton.


Sadly, Taylor succumbed to a sudden heart attack during the
recording of this album, but McKendree and Taylor’s wife Karen were able to
follow the mantra dictated in the title and see 
Steppin’ Up through to
completion. Consequently, the results ensure his musical legacy will linger on.


Lick,” “Since I Fell For You” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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