This September would have seen the eightieth birthday of pianist and composer John Taylor, who died simply two months earlier than his 73rd birthday in 2015. The Royal Academy of Music Jazz Orchestra will carry out a live performance of Taylor’s huge band works on 12 October, joined by particular visitors Stan Sulzmann, Norma Winstone, Nikki Iles and Liam Noble. Preview by Charles Rees:
John Taylor is without doubt one of the most revered of jazz pianists. Ask any British pianist, nearly all will cite Taylor as a main affect and plenty of others all over the world will say the identical; ‘JT is my hero’, explains Nikki Iles. And but, Taylor’s expertise as an arranger and orchestrator are identified to only a few. These of us who’ve been fortunate sufficient to play a few of his large-ensemble charts within the London Jazz Orchestra, or hear his mesmerising works for symphony orchestra recorded in Bremen can attest that he was as expert on this space as he was on the piano.
Taylor did, in truth, produce a reasonably intensive catalogue of charts for big ensembles over the course of his lifetime. After he handed away, a lot of this catalogue turned misplaced till lately, when his widow, Carol, handed on her late husband’s archive to Norma Winstone. Because of the next work of Nick Sensible and Equipment Downes, a live performance’s price of huge band music has been uncovered and can be carried out by the Royal Academy of Music Jazz Orchestra on 12 October.
“John was a vastly essential determine as a pianist, composer and improviser, whose affect reached out throughout the entire world,” explains Nick Sensible, Head of Jazz on the Royal Academy of Music. “It has at all times been essential to us on the Academy to incorporate tasks that remember a number of the nice musicians that make up our historical past throughout the lineage of British Jazz – alongside the American founders of the music which are a basic a part of any jazz programme – and John is true up there when it comes to the figures that characterised one thing distinctive, while nonetheless being steeped within the jazz traditions.”
Becoming a member of Sensible and the Academy’s jazz orchestra are 4 musicians with robust ties to John Taylor, the primary of whom is saxophonist Stan Sulzmann. He talked a bit about what it’s like for him to revisit this music: “It’s been fairly a number of years now since I performed a few of these tunes, however I used to play them with John; Windfall we performed in his sextet after which I performed the orchestral model of Pure and Easy in Bremen. It’s very nostalgic, coming again and taking part in them.”
Featured on piano, along with the six college students finding out jazz piano on the Academy, can be each Nikki Iles and Liam Noble. Iles talked a bit concerning the affect Taylor had on her taking part in: “It’s humorous how I’ve transcribed many pianists through the years, however by no means John. I cherished him an excessive amount of and my instincts have been to maintain the thriller… and to be frank, what could be the purpose? He was a one off! And but I undoubtedly realized about interplay, about ‘going for it’ with out worry, about power, sound, house, contact and creating atmospheres, all via watching him reside.” We additionally requested Liam Noble… and his response was to write down a chunk about John Taylor within the LJN collection “Ten Tracks…”.
Vocalist Norma Winstone will even make a short look in the course of the efficiency. Her connection to Taylor is exclusive. “I feel that John Taylor was probably the most artistic jazz pianist Britain has produced,” she mentioned. “The factor with John was that he would by no means fairly play what you is perhaps anticipating. I cherished his daring and danger taking and it was a pleasure to discover some shocking course he would all of a sudden take. I feel he at all times introduced out extra from the folks he performed with than they anticipated. Sadly, that have is not potential, so it’s great that the younger musicians on the Academy are being launched to his huge band writing, which has a number of the similar parts of shock and exploration.”
This venture truly has a deeper which means for the Academy than simply being a celebration of what would have been Taylor’s eightieth birthday. As Nick Sensible explains, “The final time I noticed him was in February 2015 when he ran an ensemble within the first Academy Jazz Pageant we ever held. We hoped, effectively assumed actually, it could be the start of a protracted relationship. However sadly, he was taken far too quickly and with a surprising suddenness. It’s a fantastic privilege to current this live performance and do our greatest to ship his uniquely lovely musical vibes out into the ether – I hope they attain him someplace!”
It’s such a rarity to listen to John Taylor’s works for large band, and when such a chance comes round it should not be missed; particularly this efficiency that options a few of his closest buddies and musical collaborators, alongside the following technology of Britain’s jazz performers.