By Damian Fanelli
Guitarist Mick Taylor, who is generally considered the most musically gifted Rolling Stone of all time, is heading to New York City next week to kick off a six-night run of shows at the Iridium Jazz Club at 1650 Broadway.
The shows run May 9 through May 14.
The Iridium, besides earning an impressive reputation for being the Big Apple's guitar mecca, is also where electric guitar pioneer Les Paul performed regularly for many years before his death in 2009.
Taylor, who says he wasn't so much inspired by Paul's playing as he was by his experimentation with multi-track recording, sounds and effects, recalled the night he and Paul performed together in 2007.
"I don’t think I impressed him that much," Taylor said last week from York, England. "I sat in with him once in the house band while I was doing a recording project with someone else, and I tried to go over this jazz-blues song, but I didn’t sing the melody, so all you heard were the chords, and it was quite jazzy. I remember at the end of the song, he said, “Thanks very much, Mick. That was great, but I don’t think I’ll be singing that in the car on my way back to New Jersey” [laughs].
In terms of the music Iridium visitors can expect to hear May 9 to 14, Taylor is one notch shy of vague.
"That’s sort of hard to clarify because I don’t really have a band at the moment," Taylor said. "I’m coming to New York on my own, playing with [drummer] Bernard Purdie, who used to play with Aretha Franklin’s band and many famous Atlantic Records releases; [bassist] Wilbur Bascomb; and [keyboardist] Max Middleton, who’s coming in from England. We used to have a band in New York when I lived there. We used to play together quite a bit, and it was good fun."
In terms of his overall style, Taylor says he's still a blues-based guitarist at heart, but he often will dabble in slightly jazzy instrumental music "with a rock-and-roll edge."
"I like playing instrumental music," he said. "It’s unfortunately being labeled as jazz-fusion. I mostly play blues covers, my own original songs, and other people’s songs that I like. Some Bob Dylan songs, for instance. But I also like to play some bluesy, jazzy instrumentals. Not too jazzy – it’s not like Pat Metheny or Robben Ford."
Before joining The Rolling Stones 1969, Taylor was the lead guitarist in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, following in the steps of Eric Clapton and Peter Green. Since he quit the Stones in December 1974, he's been living the sort of life you'd expect a former Rolling Stone to lead -- touring the universe as a solo artist or with Bob Dylan or Jack Bruce, guesting on friends' albums -- even joining Jagger in the studio in 2010 to overdub guitar onto "Plundered My Soul," a leftover song from the Exile on Main St. sessions.