The Squid's Ear Magazine

Taylor, Chad Trio (feat. Brian Settles / Neil Podgurski): The Reel (Astral Spirits)

The 2nd album as a leader from NY drummer's Chad Taylor's Trio with long-time collaborators and friends, saxophonist Brian Settles and pianist Neil Podgurski, in nine diverse compositions with contributions from all three players along with two works from late pianist Andrew Hill; a wonderfully balanced album of creative jazz, from meditative to joyfully upbeat and rhythmically compelling.

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product information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS223CD
Squidco Product Code: 33205

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Samurai Hotel Recording Studios, in Astoria, New York, on May 9th, and June 24th, 2022, by David Stoller.


Chad Taylor-drums

Brian Settles-saxophones

Neil Podgurski-piano

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The multifaceted drummer Chad Taylor, who proves to be as much virtuosic as practical in his chops, returns with his bass-less trio - featuring saxophonist Brian Settles and pianist Neil Podgursky - for a sophomore album whose program is a jewel. As a sideman, the drummer has been contributing to some of the most compelling projects by the Chicago Underground Quartet, saxophonists Avram Fefer and James Brandon Lewis, and bassist Eric Revis, just to name a few.

He brings two of his own compositions into The Reel, one being the title track, a piece in five with a rubato piano-driven passage and a folk inflection that makes us think of Keith Jarrett's excursions; and the other "Julian's Groove", which makes a fine turn into an Afro-Cuban rhythm so blithe as to be ravishing.

The amazing teamwork between the trio members is here for anyone to declare true, and you'll find two incredible renditions of tunes by the immensely influential pianist Andrew Hill that are illustrative of that. "Subterfuge", for example, brings a subtle Latin touch to Hill's hypnotic modal jazz; it's a narratively strong number where Podgursky combines lush voicings and single-note phrases with dexterity. Boasting an alluring timbre, Settles is assertive in his statement, letting the ideas flow with freedom, whereas Taylor expands his language during four-bar exchanges with his associates. The other piece, "Reconciliation" - a gem first included in the 1964 Blue Note album Judgment! - relies on a boppish language with some delightful angularity, benefiting from the ever-sensitive drumming of the bandleader, whose classy brushwork shows the way for qualified solos from Settles and Podgursky.

Whereas the saxophonist contributes only "Moon Tone Shift", pivoting to a more sober mood with parallel lyricism on top of Taylor's elemental vitality, the pianist penned four of the nine tracks on the album. The highlights are "Delta", with its disarmingly expressive melody, as well as the beautifully accented "Omniverse", which closes out the session as an artier model centered on post-bop sophistication. Here, the racing melodies go up and down the hill with intervallic wisdom and impeccable drumming on the side.

What's more striking is that there are no weak moments on The Reel, an album that holds one's interest on account of emotional honesty and a refreshing musical imagination made with a mix of complete unpretentiousness and necessary complexity. The members of this trio, not being radically different in their tastes and approaches, are definitely on the same page."-Flipe Freitas, JazzTrail

Get additional information at Jazz Trail

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 (

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"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. Subterfuge 6:18

2. Delta 5:39

3. Moon Tone Shift 5:56

4. Julian's Groove 4:34

5. Nebula 4:52

6. Reconciliation 5:19

7. Concentric 6:02

8. The Reel 5:33

9. Omniverse 5:13

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
New in Improvised Music
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