Hanging with an old friend – A night with James Taylor

James Taylor and his All Star Band played to a packed house at the iWireless Center on Thurs., Nov. 6, 2014. His timeless blues style of music resonated with fans both young and old. They shouted out, whistled, and sang along with favorites, and were delighted to hear new songs not yet available on recording.

He started the evening with the first song, “Something in the Way She Moves,” that he presented to Paul McCartney in 1968, kicking off his legendary career. Throughout the evening, Taylor mixed classics with new tunes and kept the audience entertained with his dry wit and comical gestures.

The All Star Band is truly that, made up of musicians and singers with already established careers and albums in their own right. Jimmy Johnson was the band leader and played electric bass. He started his career at the age of 13 working with a musician’s union, and first toured with Taylor in 1990.

Drummer, Steve Gadd, had his first gig on the Mickey Mouse Club in 1957, first toured with the School Band of America in 1961, and then started working with James Taylor in the mid 1980’s for a recording session.

Adding to the rhythm of the night was Cuban percussionist, Luis Conte. His first gig was at Club Chez Pico in Los Angeles when he was only 18 years of age. Conte toured with The Hues Corporation at 21, and joined Taylor in 1998 for his Live at the Beacon Theater concert (a recording also available on DVD).

Lou Marini delighted the audience on saxophone and a lesser known instrument called the penny whistle. He started at 13 playing a wedding gig in Canton, Ohio, and started worked with Taylor for New Year’s Eve of 2000 in Raleigh. Walt Fowler added to the horns section playing the trumpet as well as electric keyboard. Fowler’s first tour was with Frank Zappa and the Mothers in 1974, and he joined Taylor’s Pullover Tour in 2001.

Electric guitarist, Michael Landau, rocked the night adding intrigue and flare. His career began playing in dance clubs at the age of 16 with his band called Spring Fever. He played with the Keane Brothers opening for Charo in 1976, and joined Taylor in 1991.

Last, but certainly not least, were the backup vocals from artists who all have albums of their own. Arnold McCuller joined Taylor in 1977, Kate Marcowitz in 1990, and Andrea Zonn (who also played fiddle) joined Taylor’s band in 2003.

James Taylor has received numerous awards throughout his career, including five Grammy awards, and continues to be recognized for his work. In 2000, Taylor was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the distinguished Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012, and the National Medal of Arts from Barack Obama in 2011. Both of these medals acknowledge their nation’s highest honors for artistic excellence.

If you are familiar with his work, you will recognize songs like “Fire and Rain,” “Walking Man,” “Milltown,” and “Whenever I see Your Smiling Face.” One of my favorites of the night, also one of his new songs, is a love song titled “You Again” which talks about lasting love and is destined to be another classic.

No matter what type of music you are inclined to listen to, James Taylor is sure to strike a chord in your soul. In my opinion, if you’ve never heard his music, your life will not be complete until you do. Learn more about Taylor’s dynamic career at www.JamesTaylor.com.