James Taylor Quartet perform The Rochester Mass @ Rochester Cathedral

In the 1987 four musicians from Medway began jamming together following the demise of local psych garage groups The Prisoners and The Daggermen. The began playing 1960s theme tunes and Hammond organ cover versions.  The James Taylor Quartet found instant appreciation, capped by a John Peel Session and an acclaimed debut album, Mission Impossible.  The band signed to Polydor and became part of the Acid Jazz scene.

Many years, albums, line-up changes and world tours later, James Taylor returned to his hometown of Rochester  last Friday night, to perform with the 40-strong Rochester Cathedral Choir.

The concert took place in the cathedral itself and was given in two parts. The first set was a performance of The Rochester Mass – a nine part piece – where the Rochester Cathedral Choir, made up of three parts: Boys Choristers, Girls Choristers and the Lay Clerks played with the James Taylor Quartet under the directorship of Scott Farrell, the cathedral’s director of music.

The Rochester Mass
Gloria part 1
Gloria part 2
Agnus Dei a capella duet intro
Agnes Dei Part 1
Flute Cadenza
Agnes Dei Part 2
Sanctus part 1
Sanctus part 2

The performance was truly amazing.  The cathedral acoustics and lavish setting was as perfect as the chemistry between choral music and jazz. The piece was very warmly received and left the audience mesmerised.

Following a short break, the James Taylor Quartet returned to play a set of acid jazz funk that had the majority of the audience dancing in the aisles, turning the church into an all-sigine all-dancing celebratory wedding-style party.  At one point James Taylor sprung from behind his Hammond organ into the audience inviting people to get to their feet, inviting them to hand clap in time with the beat.

The second set included live favourites such as JTQ Theme, Love Will Keep Us Together, and crowd-pleasing cover versions of Booker T & the MG’s Time Is Tight and Green Onions.

The concert was an overwhelming success, as was The Rochester Mass when given its premier at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London earlier this year.  The Rochester Mass is due to be released this Autumn on Cherry Red Records.

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