James Taylor has shared a YouTube clip of himself rehearsing for his recently-completed residency on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In the raw and spontaneous footage, he jams through a version of Eddie Floyd’s soul classic “Knock On Wood” with the stellar musicians in Colbert’s house band, Stay Human.
There are particularly outstanding cameos by percussionist Nêgah Santos and Jon Lampley on trumpet, in a band also featuring Louis Cato on guitar, Endea Owens (bass), Louis Fouché (saxophone), Joe Saylor (drums), and Taylor’s regular pianist Larry Goldings. The week-long residency on Colbert took place last week, August 1-5.
Taylor often performs the Stax gem written by Floyd and Steve Cropper in his live set, and included versions of it in the 2002 video concert release “Pull Over” and the 2009 studio collection Other Covers. He is, of course, well known for his expertise in adapting soul hits to his distinctive style, perhaps most notably on his smash hit version of “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” in 1975.
Taylor’s version of Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It” is also fondly remembered, and his Covers album of 2008 included such remakes as the Temptations’ “It’s Growing” and Jr. Walker and the Allstars’ “(I’m A) Road Runner.” Other Covers also featured readings of the Silhouettes’ “Get A Job” and Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour.”
The revered singer-songwriter spoke to Colbert about his recent touring, and in particular about having his son Henry in the band. “It’s been great, it felt so easy and so, well, familiar, obviously,” he said. “I think he’s got a feel for it. I’ve toured, actually, with three of my children at various points, and it’s a wonderful thing.
“He says he feels anxiety, he feels nerves beforehand, but you wouldn’t know that,” he went on. “I’ve often said that 90 per cent of showbusiness is how you look when you’re nervous.”