Billy Taylor Day

July 24, 1921 – December 28, 2010


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Pianist and educator Billy Taylor was born July 24, 1921 in Greenville, NC though his early music development took place in Washington DC.

He learned piano from Henry Grant, the same man who a generation earlier had trained Duke Ellington.

A highly respected player, he was sought out as a sideman by Ben Webster, Charlie Parker, Machito, Stan Getz, Miles Davis and many others.

Perhaps unfairly Taylor is better remembered as a jazz advocate than a player. Here’s what he said about that.

“There’s no question that being an advocate eclipsed my reputation as a musician. It was my doing. I wanted to prove to people that jazz has an audience.”

Known for his role as a music educator Billy Taylor was also a gifted composer.

Many of his works draw upon gospel inspired themes while remaining true to the hard bop format.

A Billy Taylor performs his original “CAG” with his trio live in 2001.


Billy Taylor, piano
Chip Jackson, bass
Steve Johns, drums


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