10:57am

Tue December 14, 2004
Columns

Billy Taylor & McPartland

Billy Taylor guest starred on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz way back in 1979 and here's a review of this great program this Sunday, January 2nd!

Put on a warm jacket before you head out at 7:00 pm with Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz and guest Dr. Billy Taylor. Jazz never had a better and more committed and capable ambassador than pianist Dr. Billy Taylor. A pianist, songwriter, educator, radio host and programmer, Taylor has preached the gospel of jazz for more than six decades. He's received some of the most prestigious awards and highest honors for his work in jazz, including an appointment to the National Council on the Arts. On this Piano Jazz reprise from 1979, he and McPartland swing on "All the Things You Are."

Billy Taylor encompasses that rare combination of creativity, intelligence, vision, commitment and leadership, qualities that make him one of our most cherished national treasures.

The distinguished ambassador of the jazz community to the world-at-large, Dr. Billy Taylor's recording career spans nearly six decades. He has also composed over three hundred and fifty songs, including "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free," as well as works for theatre, dance and symphony orchestras.

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. Since the 1950s, Billy Taylor has been leading his own Trio, as well as performing with the most influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century.

Dr. Taylor has 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 has also hosted and programmed such radio stations WLIB and WNEW in New York, and award winning series for National Public Radio. In the early 1980s, Taylor became the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, a post he still holds today.

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

With over twenty two honorary doctoral degrees, Dr. Billy Taylor is also the recipient of two Peabody Awards, an Emmy, a Grammy nominations 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 of Jazz Educators.

Now in his eighties, Billy remains active, touring and recording with his Trio, playing concert dates, television, and radio engagements, writing music and lecturing.