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Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

RIP John Taylor

I had the great pleasure of taking some lessons over the years from the great UK based pianist John Taylor. In all our meetings John was candid, forthcoming, funny, and present.  As an improviser, pianist, and composer his output stands as an prime example of a jazz musician who had reached the pinnacle of what is possible musically, a musician who's expression transcended the piano and reached a wide audience.

Of course like many others I came to know John's music through the recordings of Kenny Wheeler. There was a time during the '90s that Wheeler's recordings and concerts were mandatory listening for any student of jazz. Wheeler himself presided over us godlike in his stature as a band leader and sideman, a superlative improviser, also constantly humble and self-depricating. Taylor bared a resemblance to Wheeler in that he was both an energetic and astonishingly advanced and fearless improviser and yet quiet and humble in person.

One group that John participated in during this time was the Peter Erskine trio. Although they only managed to release 4 records that I know of each one reached new levels of group interaction. Featured prominently in this group were the compositions of Taylor himself. The following tune was always one that captured my imagination as I found I could follow it melodically and harmonically and at the same time feel lost a bit. That feeling of being both oriented in the music and yet lost is definitively what characterizes Taylor's compositions for me.