John Taylor was born in Manchester (25th September 1942) and first came to the attention of the jazz audience in 1969 when he partnered saxophonists, Alan Skidmore and John Surman. He was later reunited with Surman in the short-lived group Morning Glory and in the 1980s with Miroslav Vitous’s quartet.
In the early 1970s, he was accompanist to the singer Cleo Laine and started to compose for his own sextet. John also worked with many visiting artists at Ronnie Scott’s club and later became a member of Ronnie’s quintet.
In 1977 John formed the trio Azimuth, with Norma Winstone and Kenny Wheeler. The group was described by Richard Williams as “…one of the most imaginatively conceived and delicately balanced contemporary chamber-jazz groups’. The trio made several recordings for ECM Records and performed in Europe, the USA, and Canada.
The 1980s saw John working with groups led by Jan Garbarek, Enrico Rava, Gil Evans, Lee Konitz, and Charlie Mariano as well as performing in duo contexts with Tony Coe and Steve Arguelles. Composing projects included a commission for the English choir Cantamus with Lee Konitz and Steve Arguelles and pieces for the Hannover Radio Orchestra with Stan Sulzmann.
John was a member of Kenny Wheeler’s quartet and large ensemble and performed in duo and quartet settings with John Surman .” Their recording of ‘Ambleside Days’ on ahum won critical acclaim. In 1996 John played organ on John Surman's choral work 'Proverbs and Songs' from Salisbury Cathedral, later released on ECM Records. During the 1990s he made several recordings also for ECM with Peter Erskine's trio with Palle Danielsson on bass. John Taylor’s elegant and resourceful piano playing has had a role to play in many ECM settings. All told in his career, he recorded 27 albums with ECM artists.
In 2000 John made a new collaboration with Azimuth and the Smith Quartet for the Weimer Festival. Also in that year he recorded 'Verso' with Maria Pia De Vito and Ralph Towner.
John celebrated his 60th birthday year in 2002 with a Contemporary Music Network Tour in which he presented his new trio with the drummer Joey Baron and Marc Johnson on bass. The tour also featured the Creative Jazz Orchestra playing John's composition 'The Green Man Suite'. In July 2002 John received the BBC Jazz Award for 'Best New Work' for this suite.Read more
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"The British pianist combines a ruminative, restlessly probing manner with lightning changes of mood and tempo, where a sense of swing is never far away, however, cerebral things might sound. Incredibly, despite having recorded for ECM for 25 years, this is Taylor’s debut as a leader on the label. With such a lot of time to choose his musicians, Taylor has chosen well, and New Yorkers Marc Johnson on bass and Joey Baron on drums provide complementary foils for Taylor’s customary interplay of rhythm and rhapsody; Johnson was also a bassist to Taylor’s hero, Bill Evans, while Baron has the enviable ability, as Charlie Haden once said of Paul Motian, to make the drums sound like a musical instrument
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