[JPL] The Recording Academy Statement On Dr. Billy Taylor

Jazz Promo Services jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 4 13:40:38 EST 2011


New York, NY (Top40 Charts/ Recording Academy) Recording Academy President
Neil Portnw issued the following statement on the recently deceased Billy
"A highly acclaimed jazz pianist, composer, and educator, Dr. Billy Taylor
was a distinguished ambassador of the jazz community. A Recording Academy
Trustees Award recipient in 2005, his career spanned more than six decades
and he played with such luminaries as MiLes Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and
Charlie Parker.

As an educator, he crusaded for greater recognition of jazz, the genre he
loved and called 'America's classical music.' As artistic advisor for jazz
at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, he helped to raise the
genre's profile and bring it into the mainstream culture. His wide-ranging
promotion and support of jazz came to overshadow his primary career as an
artist and performer, but his outstanding accomplishments and passion for
the music he loved has created a timeless legacy that will continue to have
a far-reaching impact on generations to come.

The jazz world has lost one of its most ardent advocates, and our deepest
condolences go out to his family, friends, fans, and all who benefited from
his artistry and his knowledge of and devotion to 'America's music.'"

Dr. Billy Taylor, a Jazz pianist, composer, educator and broadcaster who
encompassed that rare combination of creativity, intelligence, vision,
commitment and leadership, qualities that made him one of our most cherished
National Treasures, died in New York on December 28, 2010. He was 89 and
lived in Riverdale, New York.

The cause was heart failure, according to his daughter, Kim Taylor-Thompson.

The distinguished ambassador of the jazz community to the world-at-large,
Dr. Billy Taylor's recording career spanned over six decades. He also
composed over three hundred and fifty songs, as well as works for theatre,
dance and symphony orchestras.

Among his most notable works is "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be
Free", achieving great popularity with Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s
and 1960s. Nina Simone covered the song in her 1967 album Silk and Soul, and
the song continues to be recorded by many artists worldwide, most recently
by Levon Helm.

Playing the piano professionally since 1944, he got his start with Ben
Webster's Quartet on New York's famed 52nd Street. He then served as the
house pianist at Birdland, the legendary jazz club where he performed with
such celebrated masters as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and MiLes Davis.
Starting in the 1950s, Billy Taylor ked his own Trio, as well as performed
with the most influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century.

After many years of recording for leading record labels, in 1989, Taylor
started his own "Taylor Made" record label to document his own music,
releasing four albums, and in the late 90s, "Soundpost Records," releasing
his two final recordings.

Dr. Taylor was not only been an influential musician, but a highly regarded
teacher as well, receiving his Masters and Doctorate in Music Education from
the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and serving as a Duke Ellington
Fellow at Yale University.

He also hosted and programmed such radio stations WLIB and WNEW in New York,
and several award winning series for National Public Radio. In the early
1980s, Taylor became the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning.

Dr. Billy Taylor was one of only three jazz musicians appointed to the
National Council of the Arts, and also served as the Artistic Advisor for
Jazz to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he developed one
acclaimed concert series after another including the Louis Armstrong Legacy
series, and the annual Mary Lou WilliamsWomen in Jazz Festival.

With over twenty three honorary doctoral degrees, Dr. Billy Taylor was also
the recipient of two Peabody Awards, an Emmy, a Grammy and a host of
prestigious and highly coveted prizes, such as the National Medal of Arts,
the Tiffany Award, a Lifetime achievement Award from Downbeat Magazine, and,
election to the Hall of Fame for the International Association for Jazz

Dr. Taylor's survivors include his wife, Theodora and his daughter, Kim
Taylor-Thompson. A son, Duane, passed away in 1988.

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