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Billy Taylor: Brazilian Beat


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Another rare and stunning Billy Taylor album is Brazilian Beat. It was recorded in 1963 for Sesac Records. Originally known as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, Sesac is the third largest performance-rights organization, behind ASCAP and BMI. Founded in 1930, Sesac's mission was to support European stage authors and composers in seeking American performance royalties. In the 1940s, Sesac began widening its representation, and in the 1950s it set up an electrical transcription service. Each month, Sesac would record “transcriptions"—not for sale recordings—of its artists and distributed them to radio stations across the country via discs. The goal as to achieve airplay and royalties for its artists.

In 1963, Billy Taylor recorded a Sesac transcription album of songs by Teddi Castion, one of Sesac's composers. Teddi was short for Theodora, Billy Taylor's wife. Teddi collaborated with Billy on the songs for Brazilian Beat. The transcription album was recorded in New York, and the Billy Taylor Septet included Seldon Powell (reeds), Billy Taylor (p), Barry Galbraith (g), Ben Tucker (b), Dave Bailey (d) and Carmen Costa and Jose Paulo (perc).

The music on the transcription album is absolutely beautiful. It's gentle, melodic and softly bossa nova with Billy running the keyboard on lyrical melodies and solos. I'm hard-pressed to think of another bossa nova piano album that's this delicate and pretty, especially on songs where Powell joins on the flute.

Billy Taylor died in 2010.

JazzWax tracks: Billy Taylor's Brazilian Beat isn't available on CD, and the vinyl version is going for around $50.

JazzWax tracks: Here's the album's title track...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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