• Dr. Billy Taylor on JazzSet January 9 & 12

    January 4, 2011. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    We at JazzSet mourn the loss of Dr Billy Taylor, who pioneered the relationship between jazz and NPR / public radio. From 1977-82, Taylor was the original host of NPR’s Jazz Alive! He was an original host of live New Year’s Eve broadcasts from NPR, 31 years ago.

    At the time of his death on December 28, 2010, Dr Taylor was the long-running Artistic Director for Jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was the heart of the connection between the Kennedy Center and JazzSet. We feel great appreciation for his leadership and friendship.

    To remember him, we will rebroadcast “Billy Taylor’s Diz,” his retirement concert from March 31, 2005, at the Kennedy Center. (To no one’s surprise, Taylor stayed busy and active after this occasion.)

    (This program replaces the previously announced James Carter Trio from Newport; we hope to reschedule that program in the future.)

    Taylor invited trumpeter Jon Faddis to share the stage, to celebrate their mutual hero, Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993).  Between tunes, Jon describes his first and second meetings with Diz.  Fifteen-year-old Faddis brought his entire Dizzy collection – dozens of LPs – and Gillespie patiently autographed each one, though he claimed not to remember recording several of them.

    Dizzy had a great sense of humor and, clearly, both Taylor and Faddis love remembering him.  Billy credits Diz for moving jazz closer to Latin music, and advancing jazz harmony.  Gillespie’s compositions are the heart of this set. Then at the end, Taylor closes with “Take the A Train,” played very slowly, at the tempo he discovered when he played the tune at composer Billy Strayhorn’s funeral.

    To open this JazzSet, we hear an earlier Taylor trio. In the late 1980s, WBGO “Jazz 88” in Newark acquired a new Steinway piano. The station asked Dr Taylor to inaugurate it. He promised to play every key, and does so with EASE on “The Man I Love.”

    Tune in to WBGO Jazz 88.3FM on Sunday, January 9 at 6pm and again on Wednesday, January 12 at 6:30pm to hear this special broadcast.

    To hear more of Dr. Taylor's eloquence, click here to hear him discuss the legacy of the great Art Tatum in November 2009, courtesy of our illustrious producer, Simon Rentner.

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