Music lovers can expect the unexpected when Martin Taylor MBE, as he has become, performs two benefit concerts in Hong Kong this week. The British guitarist often doesn't know himself what he is going to play until he sits down with his instrument. 'I know many tunes and tend to play whichever ones take my mood. Sometimes I walk on stage and have no idea what I'm going to play. I just sense the atmosphere of the audience and venue and take it from there,' he says. It's that performer's instinct that has made Taylor perhaps the most complete guitarist of his generation - equally comfortable playing blues with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, accompanying Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel, playing in the Four Martins with folk-based Martin Simpson and Martin Carthy and flamenco guitarist Juan Martin, or playing gypsy jazz-inspired acoustic music with his Spirit of Django band, which releases its album, Last Train to Hauteville, next month. Taylor built a considerable following in Hong Kong in the early 1990s when he used to appear at the old Jazz Club in Lan Kwai Fong, sometimes playing duets with Eugene Pao, who as a young player had copped a few licks from the British musician's early recordings. 'We used to play there together quite often and I hope to see him again on this trip. I'm really looking forward to coming back to Hong Kong after such a long time,' Taylor says. Initially inspired by Django Reinhardt, Taylor took up the guitar as a child and later played for 11 years as a sideman with Stephane Grappelli, Reinhardt's violin-playing partner in the Quintette Du Hot Club de France. It was during this time that he began to explore the unaccompanied solo style for which he is now best known. Unaccompanied solo jazz guitar is a hugely demanding discipline, requiring the ability not only to simultaneously play melody lines, bass lines and sophisticated chords but also to swing as though there were a rhythm section present. Joe Pass showed that a solo jazz guitarist could be as effective a performer as a solo jazz pianist, and Taylor has built on that foundation, taking unaccompanied virtuosity on the instrument to new levels. One of the things that makes Taylor remarkable, though, is that he almost never plays 'flash guitar' for the sake of it. In his Grappelli days he developed George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm - at Grappelli's insistence - as a technical tour de force solo performance, but much of his playing is known for its appropriateness to the music rather than his dazzling technique. It is only when you listen carefully to an unobtrusively tasteful passage that you notice it often includes a couple of near impossible licks, flawlessly articulated. Although his major influences are from the jazz world - his father was a jazz bassist and his earliest memories are of a house full of the music - Taylor's repertoire extends far beyond composers such as Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin and Jimmy Van Heusen. The tunes Taylor has made his own over the years include country standards such as the Tennessee Waltz, classic pop or rock like the Beatles' Here There and Everywhere and even religious tunes such as What a Friend We Have In Jesus, which, he says, he vaguely remembered hearing played by a Salvation Army brass band and which popped into his head when he needed a theme as an intro to his version of the sultry Maria Muldaur hit, Midnight at the Oasis - a very unlikely juxtaposition, but one that makes perfect musical sense. 'I see myself as a story-teller,' says Taylor. 'I tell stories without words. I create moods and emotions and help the listener connect with their own feelings. 'Musicians and artists are usually very sensitive people emotionally, so we can often help people who have more difficulty finding their emotional centre and get in touch with their deeper feelings through what we do. I always hope that during my concerts people have the opportunity to laugh, cry, be happy, and go away after the show feeling good about themselves.' Those taking in Taylor's performances this week will be able to feel good about having contributed to a worthwhile cause. Proceeds from both shows will go to the Chi Heng Foundation, which helps children on the mainland who have lost one or both parents to HIV/Aids. Martin Taylor: Truth of Jazz Guitar; 8pm, Thursday and Friday; Drama Theatre, Academy for Performing Arts. Tickets, HK$420, HK$300 and HK$150 from Tom Lee and HK Ticketing: www.hkticketing.com or tel: 3128 8288; programme inquiries tel: 6117 7654.