Billy Taylor, 1921-2010

2010 has stolen another great in its last hours.

Billy Taylor has died at 89. The New York Times describes Dr. Taylor as “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.”

Taylor provided an introduction to jazz for baby boomers (like me) when he was the musical director for the old David Frost show.

Like this:

More recently, he produced several hundred musical features for the CBS Sunday Morning program up until around 2000, when the once articulate and classy program became just another place to get Hollywood nonsense. Here’s an example of the work he turned in.

For several years, he was the host of an NPR series, “Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center,” and many people considered him the foremost jazz educator of his — or any — time, the Washington Post said.

MPR’s Euan Kerr talked to Dr. Taylor when he visited Minnesota in 2009:

  • Hilary

    I love the piano trio and in particular the bowler hat and stogie.

  • John P.

    Great music, but it also reminds me:

    1. I miss smoking

    2. I need a stylin’ hat. No more stocking cap. I need a Fedora, or something.