He has been called "arguably the most accomplished solo jazz guitarist in the world" by Guitar Player magazine, and has been awarded the Order of the British Empire for his much-lauded musical contributions.
Yet Martin Taylor goes relatively unrecog-nised outside his home country, especially in Thailand, where he will perform with the comparatively more famous Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel on Monday at M Theatre in Bangkok. The show will follow concerts by the duo in China, Taiwan and Singapore.
In a recent phone interview, Taylor shared how he hooked up with Emmanuel, and how the tour came about.
"I met Tommy about 20 years ago while I was on a solo tour of Australia," says the 57-year-old guitarist. "I played on a local TV show there, and Tommy saw it and got hold of me by phone afterwards.
"We arranged to meet and play together in Australia, which was enjoyable for us both. Later when Tommy moved to the UK, he called me up. He wasn't known there at all then, but my son, who's been managing me for a long time, was able to arrange tour dates for Tommy in the UK and Europe."
Emmanuel, who is a year younger than Taylor and like his colleague mostly performs solo, is best known for his complex finger-style technique and high energy performances. The material he performs and records tends to come from folk, rock, country and pop. Although the two have been in the music business roughly the same length of time, Taylor's approach to guitar, by contrast, is strongly founded in jazz. His knowledge of harmony, chord structure and alternative scales arguably resides at a higher level than that of his colleague. Yet Emmanuel is inarguably more popular around the world.
"Yes, our backgrounds are quite different," admits Taylor. "But over the years both of us have expanded our repertories to the point where they overlap more than you might think."
Taylor and Emmanuel have been touring in support of The Colonel & The Governor, their 2013 collaboration, which was recently nominated for an Aria in Australia for best jazz album. Asked how the duo worked out what material they would record together, Taylor responds: "We each made up lists of possible tunes, and then we got together at my house, ran thorough the lists and eliminated ones we didn't think would work.
"We went through the same process again at Tommy's house, and when we finally had the list, we rehearsed and then performed a bunch of dates in the Northwest US for about a week to get the material tight. After that we went straight into the studio in Nashville and recorded the album in four days," recalls Taylor. "In many ways it feels like a live album because of that."
When it comes to dividing up the talent for the Bangkok show, Taylor says: "It will be very much a 50/50 collaboration in terms of solos versus comping [playing chords]. Also, to keep the show varied, we'll alternate between solo and duo performances.
"Some of the old 1930s jazz tunes I brought out Tommy didn't know before, so it's great to hear his completely different take on them. He doesn't play jazz licks as such, so he brings his own thing to the tunes.
"As for me, I just play the way I play, more jazz than anything else.
"Playing the guitar is the only thing in my life that's ever come easy to me. In school, I never knew what they were talking about. But show me a chord chart, or play a record and tell me to copy the guitar part, and I can do it."
Martin Taylor & Tommy Emmanuel will perform on Sunday at 8pm at M Theatre.
Tickets are available at thaiticketmajor.com, or call PMG at 02-203-0423.