Billy Taylor Talking Jazz
Billy Taylor is not only a gentleman and a scholar but also a very swinging piano player and a terribly nice man. He is notoriously generous with his time and his talent, seemingly ready to go out of his way to share personal experiences or professional connections with younger musicians and folks in the world of broadcasting, who are interested in what he calls “America’s Classical Music”. Perhaps because he has spent so much time fighting for the rights of jazz musicians and respect for jazz music, both in the halls of government and the classrooms of higher learning, he is particularly sensitized to the need for one-on-one contact, the kind of street level oral tradition that gave birth to this music. I first met Billy working on the “Jazz Alive” series for National Public Radio. He was leaving the show and I was taking over his role as host / artistic director. He made me feel welcome, particularly on the air, and he gave me the feeling that my observations were of interest to both himself and the listeners. Later, I realized this was also the technique of an old pro encouraging a younger man to develop his own style. Dr. Taylor never stops teaching.