Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Billy Taylor (1921–2010)

Sad news:

Billy Taylor, a pianist and composer who was also an eloquent spokesman and advocate for jazz as well as a familiar presence for many years on television and radio, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 89 and lived in the Riverdale area of the Bronx. . . .

Dr. Taylor, as he preferred to be called (he earned a doctorate in music education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975), was a living refutation of the stereotype of jazz musicians as unschooled, unsophisticated and inarticulate, an image that was prevalent when he began his career in the 1940s, and that he did as much as any other musician to erase.

Dr. Taylor probably had a higher profile on television than any other jazz musician of his generation. He had a long stint as a cultural correspondent on the CBS News program Sunday Morning and was the musical director of David Frost’s syndicated nighttime talk show from 1969 to 1972.

Billy Taylor, Jazz Pianist, Dies at 89 (New York Times)
I think that Billy Taylor must be the first jazz musician I ever saw — on television, when I was a kid. Here’s a sampler of his art, courtesy of YouTube:

An unidentified blues
“Here’s That Rainy Day” (with John Lewis)
“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”
“In a Sentimental Mood”
“Three Blind Mice”

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