Saturday, May 25, 2019

Melvin Taylor @ Pan Piper, Paris - May 25th, 2019

Melvin Taylor has been Chicago's best kept secret for over thirty years: a veritable blues-rock road warrior with a jazz technique and a penchant for funk. I hadn't been to one of his shows since a memorable night at the New Morning in the summer of 1996 (or was it 1995?), when he was touring behind his fantastic album Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, the Mississippi-born guitarist, who turned sixty a couple of months ago, has lost nothing of his chops and soul. Backed by a formidable band of seasoned veterans (including drummer Jay Davenport who we saw as part of John Mayall's band last month), Melvin Taylor regaled us with his virtuosic guitar playing and soulful vocals for nearly two hours.

Slow blues, shuffle, soul, funk, jazz... Melvin can play it all and the concert was a showcase for his incendiary playing. Lightning-fast at times, but always precise and with a judicious use of the wah wah pedal, his technique recalled that of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

But this wasn't just a master class in blues guitar: his singing was also superb and the repertoire is top notch: versions of Texas Flood, I'll Play the Blues For You and Black Magic Woman... Bass player BT Richardson and keyboardist Bernell Anderson also got to flex their vocal muscles by singing lead on two songs each.

A great night of fiery blues-rock in the company of a master of the genre.

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