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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor and Gerry Mulligan: Live at MCG

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The typical jazz listener easily tires of hearing standards covered by newer artists. However, it's occasionally good to hear the masters revisit some of these old compositions--a way of staying connected. Jazz legends Billy Taylor and Gerry Mulligan have done that with Live at MCG. The Manchester Craftsmen's Guild is a non-profit organization in Pittsburgh, USA whose mission is to preserve, present and promote jazz. In doing so, MCG brings in artists such as Taylor and Mulligan to entertain and educate the jazz public. Taylor is a pianist, composer, teacher, lecturer, radio and television personality, recording artist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor and Gerry Mulligan: Live at MCG

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Dr. Billy Taylor has spent so much of the latter part of his nearly sixty-year career in jazz as an educator and broadcaster that it's easy to forget what a brilliant pianist he is. This splendid 1993 date, billed as his first-ever performance with the late baritone sax legend Gerry Mulligan, should serve as a reminder of Taylor's often overlooked talents--as well as a valuable addition to Mulligan's legacy. The album features the two veterans, Taylor, then seventy-two and Mulligan, sixty-six, in a live recording culled from a series of shows at Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, a ...

LIVE REVIEWS

IAJE 2006: Three Legends Offer Insight Into Music

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The International Association for Jazz Education's annual conference January 11-14 offered ample opportunities to not only hear great music, but to hear the stories behind it from some true music masters.

Billy Taylor

I managed to catch interviews with Billy Taylor, Clark Terry and writer Dan Morgenstern, but missed out on a rare chance to hear Sonny Rollins because the hotel ballroom where he spoke was filled to capacity.

Dr. Taylor is “thinking about" writing an autobiography. Terry has written one, yet to be published. Morgenstern's Living with Jazz came out not long ago. All three interviews were chock full ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor: Taylor Made at the Kennedy Center

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Dr. Billy Taylor and friends begin this concert performance compilation with homage to early bebop as Terence Blanchard recalls the loose, pioneering spirit of Diz and Stanley Turrentine does his best to interpret Bird's spirit in his own way. Russell Malone and Stefon Harris broaden the scope, turning Taylor's idea into a thrilling jam session that presents Jazz at the Kennedy Center with open ears and smiling faces. Tradition has been served.

Performed and recorded between 1999 and 2002, the selections heard here follow a path for which we remember John F. Kennedy: one that respected freedom and ...

BOOK EXCERPTS

"Bebop" from Taylor Made Piano

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By Billy Taylor Chapter 9: Bebop Originally published in 1982, this book is an invaluable and popular resource for both music students and professional musicians alike. Billy Taylor conveys the history and development of America's classical music, jazz, through a unique perspective--that of practicing musician, jazz pianist and educator. This excerpt is taken from the chapter on Bebop.

Bebop was the next step in the evolution of Jazz. The most musically complex style to crystallize in the 1940s, bebop (sometimes called rebop in the early years), was the result of several years ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor: Taylor Made at the Kennedy Center

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A tribute to the retiring Dr. Billy Taylor, Taylor Made at the Kennedy Center documents the artist's performance career at the Kennedy Center and presents him in the context he loved best--on stage and sharing his love of jazz by not only performing his own music, but also bringing to the audience some of jazz's greatest contemporary voices.

Culled from several years' worth of live recordings at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, the album presents nine tracks, each an original composition by Taylor. All feature his longstanding trio partners, drummer Winard Harper and bassist Chip Jackson, and many bring to ...

DISTRICT JAZZ

Final Notes: Dr. Billy Taylor Retires from Concert Performance

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Educator, ambassador, author, composer, and master pianist, Dr. Billy Taylor ended his concert career last Thursday night, concluding over sixty years as one of jazz's greatest emissaries with a rousing performance at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater by his trio and guest John Faddis. Billy Taylor's career has spanned the entirety of modern jazz, and his efforts have touched countless listeners and students, and helped to establish the careers of many of today's most notable voices. He has received accolades from all quarters, including an Emmy award, Grammy nominations, twenty-two honorary doctorates, and the Doris Duke Millennium ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Billy Taylor: A Comma - Not a Period

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The second and last set of pianist Billy Taylor's final public performances on March 31, 2005, was an emotional experience for many reasons. Although Taylor was born in North Carolina, Washington, DC was his home from the age of five, until he graduated Virginia State University. At the age of thirteen, Taylor played his first professional date at The Republic Gardens, a small club on the historic “U Street corridor of Washington, which contained many since closed venues (The Republic Gardens, although no longer a jazz haunt, remarkably remains open). Moreover, Taylor has, for over last ten years, served as ...

JAZZ FROM THE VINYL JUNKYARD

Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina

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Billy Taylor Orchestra Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina Mercury 1962

Continuing our look into soundtrack albums of a jazz nature, we depart this month from film scores to take a look at a jazz interpretation of music from a Broadway production. Opening in October of 1961 and running for a mere 32 performances, Kwamina takes place in West Africa in a British colony where a young woman doctor runs into trouble when she falls in love with a local black physician whose name gives the play its title. The cast of the production included Robert ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Billy Taylor Trio: Warming Up!

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Billy Taylor is primarily known for bringing jazz to a wider audience through radio, television, and, in the case of the Jazzmobile, the streets of the city. But along the way he also recorded some fine jazz albums as well.

The two sessions featured on this reissue are trio dates that are a little bit unusual in their conception. The first, 1960's Warming Up!, is a series of recordings done for a radio transcription agency. All are tunes written by Taylor's wife, and due to the restrictions of the format, they're brief, in most cases around three minutes ...

FIRST TIME I SAW...

Dr. Billy Taylor

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He was probably the first person I'd ever heard talk intelligently about jazz. On his New York radio show on WLIB in the late fifties, Billy Taylor spoke with eloquent simplicity about the music he loved. And then he'd play one of his own records and I remember thinking, this is how piano playing should sound--expansive, inclusive, full of endless possibilities.I finally got my father, who was not all that enthused about my interest in jazz at the time, to take me to hear Billy Taylor in person. Taylor and his trio were playing at an upper East ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor: Billy Taylor Trio with Earl May/Percy Brice

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Billy Taylor has lurked behind the scenes for years, never quite achieving the fame he deserved, and his legacy will probably rest largely on his efforts as an educator to bring jazz to a wider audience. That is a shame, because Taylor was quite a accessible pianist and his extensive catalog remains largely out of print. Fortunately, Fantasy has released this two-fer CD, featuring two sessions from 1954 and 1955 that amply demonstrate what a great pianist he truly is.

Taylor is often compared to Teddy Wilson because of his elegant, understated approach and easygoing stroll through ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor: Ten Fingers -- One Voice

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I love piano players who swing. I especially admire 77–year–old pianists who swing like they’re 27. It follows logically that Billy Taylor would be among my favorite pianists, an assessment that is emphatically underscored by his marvelous new solo album, Ten Fingers — One Voice, a thoroughly entrancing tour de force on which Billy takes dead aim at half a dozen standards, two Jazz staples and three of his own compositions, and scores a sonic bull’s–eye on every one. The voice is wide–ranging and articulate, encompassing elements of bop, swing, post–bop and even some stride (on Teddi Castion’s “Easy Like”). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor: Ten Fingers - One Voice

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At 77, pianist Billy Taylor serves the jazz world through his profiles of musicians on CBS-TV’s Sunday Morning, and as host of NPR’s Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center broadcasts. Taylor’s book for Hal Leonard,The Billy Taylor Collectionis due out in January 1999.

Versed in all aspects of solo piano performance, Dr. Billy Taylor demonstrates different piano styles for his audience, styles that range from stride piano to bebop and into hard bop improvisation. “Tea for Two, with all its allegiance to Art Tatum, portrays Taylor’s love for fresh improvisation. As Nat Hentoff’s liner notes point out, the standard ...



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