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Taylor, Chad Trio (Feat Brian Settles / Neil Podgurski): The Daily Biological (Cuneiform)

Merging players from the NY, Philidelphia and Chicago scenes, the trio of drummer Chad Taylor, saxophonist Brian Settles and pianist Neil Podgurski have a history reaching into the 90s in NYC, bringing a confident kinetic energy to their playing, energized by Taylor's powerful rhythmic center and a lyrical bent that makes their music exuberant and intelligent at once.

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product information:

UPC: 045775046723

Label: Cuneiform
Catalog ID: Rune 467
Squidco Product Code: 29420

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at Park West Studios, in Brooklyn, New York, on August 9th, 2019 and September 18th, 2019, by Jim Clouse.


Chad Taylor-drums

Brian Settles-tenor saxophone

Neil Podgurski-piano

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Artist Biographies:

"Chad Taylor (b. 1973) is a composer, educator, percussionist and scholar who is a co-founder of the Chicago Underground ensembles. Originally from Tempe, AZ, Chad grew up in Chicago where he started performing professionally at the age of 16. Chad has performed with Fred Anderson, Derek Bailey, Cooper-Moore, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Peter Brotzmann, Malachi Favors and many others. Chad leads his own band Circle down which debut recording was given a 5 star review by All music:

"What is remarkable is that there is no wasted motion, no histrionics or grandstanding, as pure emotion is translated to superlative music making on this most highly recommended recording, one for the ages."

Chad has a BFA from the New School in Jazz Performance and a MFA in Jazz Research and History from Rutgers University."

-Chad Taylor Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Saxophonist and composer Brian Settles has established himself as a rising force with a long-term artistic vision. Settles blends the outwardly engaging with the deeply personal, reconciling his intimate command of the jazz lineage with a commitment to his own experimental voice. He performs regularly with some of modern jazz's leading groups, including Tomas Fujiwara and The Hook Up, Michael Formanek's Cheating Heart and Big Band Kolossus, and bands led by Jonathan Finlayson. Settles has also accompanied the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Jason Moran and Marc Cary.

Settles' two albums as a leader feature entirely original music, highlighting his buoyant, pithy compositions: Secret Handshake (Engine, 2011) featured the five-piece Central Union, and was named the best jazz record of the year by both the Washington City Paper and Settles followed up with Folk (Engine, 2013), a trio album acclaimed by Something Else Reviews and the NYC Jazz Record.

Born and raised in Washington, DC, Settles picked up the saxophone in the eighth grade and was immediately enamored. The next year he enrolled in the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he spent the next four years studying with renowned saxophonist and educator Davey Yarborough. During his time at Ellington, Settles began a ten-year mentorship with tenor saxophone legend Stanley Turrentine. This exposure to the life of a veteran performer and recording artist solidified his plans of becoming a jazz musician.

Settles went on to attend the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music, where he was mentored by bass legend Reggie Workman and saxophonist Arnie Lawrence, the school's founder. After graduating from the New School, Settles joined forces with bassist, Tom Abbs and drummer, Chad Taylor. Under Abbs' leadership, the trio (Frequency Response) performed throughout New York City and in 2003 (with the addition of cellist, Okkyung Lee) recorded the album Conscription (CIMP - 288).

In 2008 Settles earned a master's degree in music from Howard University, where he studied with the great saxophonist Charlie Young. While at Howard, Settles joined drummer Tomas Fujiwara in The Hook Up. The quintet has since released three well-received albums, and has been celebrated by the New York Times as "a gathering of sharp young improvisers ... insightful [and] invigorating." And Settles has earned a growing chorus of acclaim on his own: In 2015 he was listed as a rising star on tenor saxophone, in Downbeat magazine's critics poll, and he earned an artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. All the while he's worked with young musicians as a teacher and mentor at the Washington Jazz Arts Institute, where he has served since 2002.

To anyone who's heard it, Settles' warbling, viscous tone is immediately recognizable, and his solos are never too quick with their emotional payoff. Inky and warm, his playing can seem to hover weightlessly while simultaneously boring down. Critic Michael J. West calls Settles "absolutely heart-stopping on the bandstand ... known for his versatility, expressiveness, and dizzying imagination" (Washington City Paper)."

-Brian Settles Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Neil Podgurski has been deeply embedded in the NY/Philly jazz scene for 20 years, enrolling in New York's New School in 1994, and living in Brooklyn until 2001 before returning to his native Philadelphia area. Over the years, he's performed at many of the region's finest venues, most recently The Kennedy Center, The Philadelphia Art Museum, The Jazz Gallery, The Iridium and Bohemian Caverns. Events in Podgurski's life led him to become a devoted practitioner of the ancient Bön-Buddhist meditation tradition of Tibet, charting the way for his groundbreaking new recording."

-Neil Podgurski Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. The Shepherd 5:43

2. Prism 5:07

3. Swamp 7:18

4. Resistance 6:57

5. Matape 6:07

6. Birds, Leaves, Wind, Trees 8:40

7. Untethered 5:21

8. Recife 2:45

9. Between Sound and Silence 12:10
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Keeping track of the protean and prolific drummer Chad Taylor is no easy feat. With each album and project he extends an already creatively roiling conversation or introduces a fertile new communion. As the debut recording of an ensemble rooted in deep and abiding friendships The Daily Biological belongs to the latter category. Featuring saxophonist Brian Settles and pianist Neil Podgurski, the unusual trio creates tough and engaging music that unfurls in kinetic conversational bursts. The sturdy but unadorned structures invite improvisation while offering a rich matrix of coordinates for exploration. The Daily Biological presents a new perspective on Taylor as a bandleader with a keen ear for striking collaborations.

It's hard to overstate Taylor's contributions to improvised music over the past three decades. A composer, scholar and educator as well as a capaciously inventive percussionist now living in Philadelphia, Taylor is probably best known as co-founder of the Chicago Underground Duo with trumpeter Rob Mazurek (and the numerous Underground iterations that have spun off of that original partnership). A professional on the Chicago scene from the age of 16, he became a rhythmic muse for many of the most celebrated artists in improvised music, including Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts, Ken Vandermark, Darius Jones, James Brandon Lewis, Jaimie Branch, Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot, and Peter Brötzmann. He's also led numerous acclaimed ensembles of his own, though never a trio quite like the one documented on The Daily Biological.

The album opens with "The Shepherd," an episodic piece by Settles that weaves together disparate sections with its own intuitive logic. From the swaggering, staggering opening section through Taylor's beautifully calibrated solo and the piano/tenor sax unison outro, it's never quite clear who's leading the flock. In many ways the pieces establishes the trio's strategic approach to musical problem solving within a wide-open harmonic palette untethered by a low-end anchor.

Harmonic twists abound in Podgurski's "Prism," a tune that calls to mind the Caribbean-inflected bebop of Elmo Hope. The pianist's moody "Resistance" takes a different tact, with a repeating, almost through-composed melody that builds tension without easy resolution.

"It might sound like Neil is improvising but all the intricate stuff he's playing is part of the composition," Taylor says. "It's almost like a classical piece. That's something that's unique about this trio, we all have strong backgrounds in classical music. When I first went to music school I was a classical guitar student. Both Neil and Brian actively work on classical repertoire."

Taylor's "Matape" finds another avenue where stubborn repetition leads to revelation. He's performed and recorded the piece in a duo with James Brandon Lewis, but here the tune plays out like a sly game of hide and seek. Podgurski's "Birds Leaves Wind Trees" is one of the album's most mysterious pieces, a picaresque adventure on which the pianist sits out for long stretches until taking charge for the calypso-inflected conclusion. "Recife" is a tune that Taylor wrote with Geri Allen in mind, inspired by her artful laying of lines balancing polyrhythmic motion. The album closes with Taylor's "Regression," an extended piece that opens in Interstellar Space territory and ends like a Chopin etude, with numerous twists and turns along the way. It's a satisfying conclusion to a set of music that steadily resists settling into predictable patterns.

Part of the reason the music feels so lived in is that Taylor traces his friendships with Settles and Podgurski back to their mid-1990s undergrad years in the New School. While many of his peers hunkered down with like-minded musicians besotted with a particular jazz idiom, "I've always floated between different scenes," Taylor says. "I didn't find many people like that. Brian was one of them. We became really good friends and I'd go with him to DC to hang with his family on breaks."

They started a quartet called The Life Ensemble with bassist Tom Abbs and pianist Andrew Bemkey. The group performed regularly and Neil Podgurski came out to so many of the gigs that Taylor started to notice. They became acquainted when he walked by a New School practice room and caught Podgurski working on an Andrew Hill tune "which you just didn't hear very often at that time," Taylor says.

Upon graduation, the three friends went their separate ways. Settles moved back to Washington D.C., and Podgurski settled in Philly. Years later, Taylor ran into Podgurski "and he gave me a demo of his original music based on Buddhist texts, Nine Times One Hundred Thousand," Taylor says. "It was one of the best piano trio recordings I've heard. It completely blew me away."

Determined to start playing together again they recruited Settles and set out creating a body of music for a specific grant. When the grant didn't come through, Taylor felt so strongly about the budding ensemble that he spearheaded the quest for gigs and recording opportunities. It's not the only adventurous bass-less piano-drums-sax trio on the scene. Prominent examples include Fieldwork with Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman and Tyshawn Sorey and Paradoxical Frog with Sorey, Kris Davis and Ingrid Laubrock, "but the truth is I haven't checked that music out much," Taylor says. "I wanted to come at it from a unique place."

The absence of a bass means all three players sometimes step into the low-end role. A musical problem to be solved "we all approached it differently," Taylor says. "All of our tunes explore different ways to utilize a trio without a bass. You need to be really strong in your playing. I think that's one of the things about this trio, we try to be very independent of each other. We're all sort of playing in our own time feel."

Deeply embedded in the New York/Philly jazz scene for some three decades, Podgurski has performed widely with masters such as Nicholas Payton, Eric Alexander and Orrin Evans. A devoted practitioner of Tibet's ancient Bön-Buddhist meditation tradition, he drew on these sacred texts for his acclaimed 2014 album Nine Times One Hundred Thousand (Cleanhead Records).

Settles performs regularly with some of modern jazz's leading groups, including Tomas Fujiwara and The Hook Up, Michael Formanek's Cheating Heart and Big Band Kolossus, and bands led by Jonathan Finlayson. A protégé of Stanley Turrentine's, he released two albums as a leader focusing on his buoyant, pithy compositions. On 2011's award-winning Secret Handshake (Engine) he featured the quintet Central Union, and followed up with 2013's trio album Folk (Engine).

Born in 1973 in Tempe, Arizona, Taylor grew up in Chicago and was shaped by the city's wide open improvisational ethic. He earned a BFA in jazz performance from the New School and an MFA from Rutgers University in jazz research and history. He's forged deep creative alliances with a dazzling array of artists, including guitarist Jeff Parker, multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, bassist Tom Abbs, saxophonist Avram Fefer, guitarist Marc Ribot, and bassist Eric Revis. He doesn't have many releases under his own name since Taylor has tended to work in co-led or collective situations, but his compositions have been featured on dozens of albums.

"I've always been a fan of Joe Chambers, and studied with him at the New School," Taylor says. "He always had some tunes on those great Blue Note records. That's what I started doing early on. In all the different bands I started saying I've got a tune. The people I've worked with were always interested."

It's hardly news that Taylor is one of jazz's most dependably inspired drummers. The Daily Biological should turn many more ears onto his vivid imagination as a composer, opening a new window into his expansive musical vision."-Cuneiform

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Other Releases With These Artists:
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