Legendary Quartet add some Swing to Kew

Review by James Adlam

A REAL party mood came to Kew Gardens on Friday (July 19, 2002) when the legendary James Taylor Quartet played one of the most eagerly awaited concerts in the gardens’ Summer Swing series.

The lawn in front of the Temperate House was turned into a community picnic ground, with the stage put up on the front porch of the glasshouses itself, which was lit up with a dazzling array of floodlights.

The cool summer night perfectly suited the cool blend of music, though the pace of the tunes and the atmosphere gradually warmed up.

Led by Taylor on the Hammond organ, the ‘quartet’ rather confusingly often featured five or six people on stage, including a vocalist part of the time.

The band displayed an impressive versatility, bringing 60s and 70s chic sounds back to life. The Hammond organ is indelibly associated with this period and James Taylor certainly brought the best out of this complicated instrument. This blended apparently effortlessly with vocals, a trumpet, flute, saxophone, guitars and drums.

On the agenda on Friday were a whole series of classic tracks, including the theme tune to Starsky and Hutch and a passable version of ‘Light My Fire’, originally by The Doors and recently covered by Will Young.

The audience were rather quiet to begin with, many seeming preoccupied with their picnics, but got more into the spirit later on. Almost everyone was on their feet by the end, when the band launched into three encores to satisfy the screaming crowd. On the last number, Taylor invited "a few girls" to get up on the stage - this opened the floodgates for dozens of people to leap the barriers.

RELATED LINKS: To find out more about what's going at Kew Gardens this summer, click here..
To find out more about the James Taylor Quartet, click here...