Chad Taylor Credit: Peter Gannushkin

Over the past couple years, drummer Chad Taylor has been on fire, contributing to some of my favorite recordings, among them albums by trumpeter Jaimie Branch, bassist Eric Revis, and pianist Mara Rosenbloom. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to jazz. In the late 90s Taylor cofounded the Chicago Underground franchise with cornetist Rob Mazurek, and since he left his hometown in 2001 his activity and versatility have only expanded. He’s always been intensely ensemble minded, adding drive, color, and presence to every project he’s part of. On Radiant Imprints (Off), a strong new duo album with saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, Taylor alternates between splashy propulsion on drum kit and meditative tones on mbira, but through it all his main focus is subtle dialogue with Lewis’s soulful, probing lines whether melodic or rhythmic. Taylor is a consummate team player, so I was a little surprised to learn that he’s also dropping a solo debut. Recorded live at Experimental Sound Studio in March 2017 as part of ESS’s Option series, Myths and Morals (Ears & Eyes) conveys a composerly vision even though much of it is fully improvised—and engineer Alex Inglizian did a marvelous job capturing every nuance in Taylor’s cymbal play and mbira patterns. Certain pieces deftly use electronics and looping to create hypnotic foundations, such as the stellar opening track, “Arcadia,” an atmospheric masterpiece that’s more about creating an immersive environment than improvisational development—though that quality is clear on the second piece, a throbbing kit solo called “Phoenix.”   v