Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Martin Taylor, Frank Vignola to Light Up Argyros with Impeccable Guitar Playing
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Martin Taylor
   
Friday, February 7, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

As soon as Martin Taylor was big enough to hold a guitar, he began playing with his father and his father’s friends at the jam sessions they held at the Taylor home. He taught himself to play at 4 by listening to records.

“My father Buck Taylor was a jazz bassist who played the music of the Quintette du Hot Club de France and I grew up in a house with lots of music, especially jazz,” said Taylor. “I used to watch my dad and his friends play music together, and I just wanted to be part of their musical world. I never had lessons—I just started out playing along to records.”

It paid off—big time.

 
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Frank Vignola
 

Inspired by guitarist Django Reinhardt and the gypsy tradition his father was so passionate about, the young Englishman started playing in his father’s band at age eight and quit school to become a professional musician at 15.

He went on to play in the position once held by Django Reinhardt who rose to fame in the Hot Club of France; recorded with Chet Atkins, David Grisman and George Harrison, and eventually went solo becoming one of the most accomplished jazz guitarists in the world.

The man who has been called “THE Acoustic Guitarist of his Generation” will perform his signature fingerstyle guitar picking imbued with virtuosity and emotion on Sunday, Feb. 9, at The Argyros Center for Performing Arts in Ketchum.

He will be joined by guitar virtuosos Frank Vignola, an American jazz guitarist who has been hailed for his virtuosity by Ringo Starr, Madonna, Wynton Marsalis and guitar legend Les Paul, who named him to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists” list.

The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $60, available at www.theargyros.org or 208-726-7872.

Taylor is recognized as one of the most accomplished jazz guitarists in the world, having recorded more than a hundred albums, several of which reached No. 1 on the charts in America and Europe. And Vignola is known for his jaw-dropping technique, which led a New York Times reviewer to call him one of the brightest stars of the guitar world.

The two will play solo pieces and duets, the material coming mostly from the Great American Songbook, said Taylor.

Taylor was playing in local bands at village dances in England by 13. When he struck out on the road at 15, it was with a band that played on the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner in 1973.

“We crossed the stormy Atlantic and came to America,” Taylor recalled.

After a couple of years playing in numerous bands and on cruise ships, including a gig with the Count Basie Orchestra, Taylor returned to the United Kingdom to play with bands in London. He also played on regular broadcasts for BBC Radio.

He made his first album “Taylor Made” in 1978 and shortly afterwards he got a call from the legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli to tour with him in France. That led to more tours in the United States and throughout the world as they recorded more than 20 records together.

“I toured with Stephane from 1979 to 1990 and it was a great honor to sit in the guitar chair once occupied by the great Django Reinhardt,” Taylor said.

The tour came to an abrupt end, though, when Grappelli suffered a heart attack.

Taylor struggled to find other work, even selling his guitars to survive. After losing his enthusiasm for playing, he was enroute to sell his last guitar when he pulled his car over to play it one last time. A few finger plucks and, suddenly, he had regained his passion.

With renewed energy, he began pursuing a solo career to avoid having to rely on other musicians for income. His engaging stage personality and his arrangements endeared him to audiences and he signed to Linn records for a few years before signing a major record deal with Sony/Columbia.

Taylor still continues to tour the world. And he has his own online guitar school based in Napa, Calif., where he also writes music for TV.

He has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Music, receiving the award from the Queen of Buckingham Palace.

And the former boy who dropped out of high school to pursue his passion now has two honorary doctorates, a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental for “Together at Last” and a record 14 British Jazz Awards.

“The guitar is a harmonic instrument so it’s possible to play it alone or in many kinds of musical settings,” he said. “It’s also very portable and a very sociable instrument. Frank and I have so much fun playing music together, so we can’t wait to share it with the Sun Valley audience.”

 

 

 

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