Various Artists – Mike Taylor Remembered (2007)

FrontCover1Michael Ronald Taylor (1 June 1938, Ealing, West London – 19 January 1969) was a British jazz composer, pianist and co-songwriter for the band Cream.

Mike Taylor was brought up by his grandparents in London and Kent, and joined the RAF for his national service. Having rehearsed and written extensively throughout the early 1960s, he recorded two albums for the Lansdowne series produced by Denis Preston: Pendulum (1966) with drummer Jon Hiseman, bassist Tony Reeves and saxophonist Dave Tomlin and Trio (1967) with Hiseman and bassists Jack Bruce and Ron Rubin. The albums were issued on UK Columbia.


During his brief recording career, several of Taylor’s pieces were played and recorded by his contemporaries. Three Taylor compositions were recorded by Cream, with lyrics by drummer Ginger Baker: “Passing the Time”, “Pressed Rat and Warthog” and “Those Were the Days”, all of which appeared on the band’s August 1968 album Wheels of Fire. Neil Ardley’s New Jazz Orchestra’s September 1968 recording Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe features one original Taylor composition, “Ballad”, and an arrangement by him of a piece by Alexandre Tansman, “Study”.

Mike Taylor drowned in the River Thames near Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in January 1969, following years of heavy drug use (principally hashish and LSD). He had been homeless for three years, and his death was almost entirely unremarked.


In 2007, the independent record label, Dusk Fire Records, released for the first time the album Mike Taylor Remembered, a 1973 tribute to the musician recorded by Ardley, Hiseman, Ian Carr, Barbara Thompson, Tony Reeves and other major modern British jazz players.

In 2015, Gonzo Multimedia published Out of Nowhere, the first biography on Taylor, by Italian writer Luca Ferrari. (wikipedia)


‘The Syd Barrett of the avant-jazz scene’ British jazz composer, pianist, songwriter, Mike Taylor died tragically young, leaving just two albums as well as co-writes with Ginger Baker for Cream’s Wheels Of Fire album to his name. In 1973, under the direction of Neil Ardley, several of the performers who had worked with him recorded an album of Taylor’s surviving orchestral music, jazz tunes and songs as a memorial to him and to preserve his work as a composer and song writer for posterity.


Taken from Ardley’s master tapes, this is their critically-acclaimed tribute to a master of his art by friends and colleagues, themselves representing a cross-section of the cream of modern British jazz talent of the day. (press release)


No matter that Mike Taylor’s life story is one of British jazz’s most tragic — the ease with which his greatest accomplishments have slipped into obscurity (buried beneath the fanfare that accompanies his work with Cream) is also an unforgivable lapse, as the story of this album proves. Mike Taylor Remembered was recorded in June 1973, four years after his death, by a clutch of musicians who were closest to him either musically or personally: Neil Ardley, Ian Carr, Dave Gelly, Jon Hiseman, Henry Lowther, Barbara Thompson, and others. Ten classic Taylor compositions were revisited under the eye of producer Denis Preston, and the result was both startling (for those who didn’t know Taylor’s music) and spooky (for those who did). But hopes for a swift — or even a belated — release came to naught, and it was 2007, a full 34 years later, before this magical performance was finally shown the light of day. It remains astonishing, ranging across the full spectrum of Taylor’s catalog, with all the contributors playing their parts with astounding strength and vivaciousness.


Neil Ardley’s woodwind score for “Song of Love” is spellbinding, while the introduction of a synthesizer to the brew — an instrument that Taylor would surely have seized upon — makes for some truly magical moments, not least of all when the instrument duets with vocalist Norma Winstone across “Summer Sounds, Summer Sights.” Liner notes by the clarinetist and saxophonist on the sessions, Dave Gelly, bring added immediacy to the listening experience, and the entire package is nothing short of a sheer delight. If only Taylor’s own recordings could be accorded such sympathetic treatment. (by Dave Thompson)

And I don’t know why it took so long until this album was finally released.

Recorded at Landsdowne Studios, London, 1973
(These recordings were made as a memorial to Mike Taylor who died in January 1969.)


Greg Bowen (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Alan Branscombe (vibraphone)
Ian Carr (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Bob Efford (saxophone, oboe, bassoon)
Tony Fisher (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Dave Gelly (clarinet, saxophone)
Bunny Gould (clarinet, bassoon)
Jon Hiseman (drums, percussion)
David Horler (trombone)
Chris Laurence (bass)
Peter Lemer (piano, synthesizer)
Henry Lowther (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Ron Mathewson (bass)
Ray Premru (trombone)
Chris Pyne (trombone)
Stan Sulzmann (saxophone, flute)
Barbara Thompson (saxophone, flute)
Ray Warleigh (saxophone, flute)
Norma Winstone (vocals)
Mike Taylor Quartet (on 03.)
Dave Tomlin (saxophone on 03.)

Music Director: Neil Ardley

01. Half Blue / Pendulum (Taylor) 7.30
02. I See You (Taylor) 3.08
03. Son Of Red Blues / Brown Thursday (Taylor/Ardley) 5.06
04. Song Of Love (Taylor) 5.05
05. Folk Dance No 2 (Taylor) 2.18
06. Summer Sounds, Summer Sights (Tomlin/Taylor) 4.24
07. The Land Of Rhyme In Time (Taylor/Bailey) 1.43
08. Timewind 1.49
09. Jumping Off The Sun (Taylor/Tomlin) 3.08
10. Black And White Raga (Taylor) 11.05CD1*


Mike Taylor01