Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Swing with a sting from the “world’s foremost spokesman for jazz” (Leonard Feather) “I know of no major jazz musician who does not possess an enormous respect and feeling for the blues, regardless of whether or not plays the blues.” So said pianist Billy Taylor during a discussion about the importance of the blues in jazz. Born in 1921 in North Carolina, Taylor worked with most of the jazz greats, including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Gerry Mulligan. He was a master of every jazz style, and was deeply influenced by the blues. On his album “Sleeping Bee”, two of the eight pieces, “Petite Mambo and “Bye Y’all” take on the 12 bar blues form. Taylor was born into an upper-middleclass Afro-American family, and began piano lessons at an early age. He graduated in 1942 with a B.S. in music, and subsequently sparked his playing career by promoting jazz in his roles as teacher, author, and radio and TV moderator. For Taylor, jazz is “America’s classical music”. Successful and highly educated, Dr. Taylor was seen as a repudiation of the cliché of the inarticulate, drug addicted jazz musician. Taylor saw himself as an “Urban Griot”. Like those West African musical bards, Taylor wanted to pass on the cultural heritage of his people to younger generations. To accomplish this, he founded the Jazzmobile in 1964. To this day, the organization presents jazz concerts for free in urban settings under the open sky. Highly esteemed as a major contributor to jazz as player, educator, and proselytizer, Taylor died in 2010.
Liner Note Author: Hans Hielscher.
Recording information: RCA-Studio, New York, NY (04/1969).
Billy Taylor and his 1969 trio (which includes bassist Ben Tucker and drummer Grady Tate) perform four of Taylor's originals, Errol Garner's "La Petite Mambo," Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Brother Where Are You" and two standards on this MPS set which was last available as a Pausa LP. The enjoyable music swings and fits perfectly into the jazz mainstream of the era. ~ Scott Yanow