The James Taylor Quartet's first single, "Blow-Up" (a funked up version of Herbie Hancock's main theme from the seminal 60s film of the same name), was released in 1985 on the Re Elect The President label, which would later become the Acid Jazz label. The track was championed by the NME and John Peel, appearing in Peel's Festive Fifty chart for 1987. The band's debut album, Mission: Impossible was released the following year and predominantly consisted of covers of Sixties film themes such as "Alfie", "Mrs. Robinson" and "Goldfinger" in a rough, up-tempo, almost punk-like style that was primarily focussed on Taylor's Hammond organ playing. Their second album, The Money Spyder, was the soundtrack to an imaginary spy film, applying the band's distinctive style to Taylor's own compositions.
Whilst promoting these albums The James Taylor Quartet developed a strong reputation as a live band that remains to this day. The live set focuses on accessible rhythm driven music that some classify as having elements of modern dance music, despite including a lot of improvised solos. During this period a contract with a major record led to them playing to ever increasing audiences. The band also recorded their signature tune "The Theme from Starsky and Hutch" during this period. This led to the release of the live album Absolute in 1991, which attempted to capture the experience of the band in concert (even though it was recorded 'live' in the studio, the audience cheering being overdubbed later).
In the early 1990s the band changed direction and released a string of song-based albums to appeal to the then fashionable Soul and Acid Jazz scene in the UK. They featured vocalists such as Rose Windross of Soul II Soul, Alison Limerick and Noel McKoy. McKoy became a permanent member of the band for part of this period. The single "Love The Life" reached the Top 40 and the accompanying album Supernatural Feeling reached the top 30 in the UK charts. The next album In The Hand of The Inevitable saw a return to the Acid Jazz label where it remains the label's biggest selling album.
Since then the James Taylor Quartet have returned to their original style of instrumental Hammond-led jazz funk workouts on albums that have showcased the band's instrumental talents. Cover versions such as "Whole Lotta Love", "Dirty Harry" and "Jesus Christ Superstar"' are still recorded in the same spirit as the band's debut "Blow-Up" single, but the albums are mainly original compositions. Live gigs regularly feature a vocalist and showcase songs from the soul period of the band. They received a Music of Black Origin nomination for their second live album Whole Lotta Live.
The James Taylor Quartet produced a bona-fide film theme of their own when they contributed to the soundtrack of the first Austin Powers film. As well as their own recordings, James Taylor and members of the quartet have collaborated with Tom Jones on the duets album Reload and featured on records by The Wonder Stuff, Manic Street Preachers, The Pogues, Kingmaker and U2. They were also the house band on Gaby Roslin's short-lived Channel 4 chat show.
In the late 1990s, James Taylor began composing and recording library music for the Bruton Music company. A series of releases were made available for use by the media industry in TV advertisements, programmes, films etc. As this material is not available for sale to the general public they are sought after by completist, die hard fans.
The James Taylor Quartet have also released three albums under the name New Jersey Kings. These are similar in style to the core funky Hammond sound of JTQ, but have tended to be recorded live in the studio resulting in a more natural yet raw sound.
Some performances during 2005 included an augmented horn section and have been promoted as the James Taylor Funk Orchestra.
During 2005 Nigel Price (guitar) replaced David Taylor.
A new JTQ album A Taste of Cherry was released in September 2006.
Bruton library releases:
New Jersey Kings: