News that British jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and mentor extraordinaire died aged 72 of a heart attack on Friday night while playing at Saveurs Jazz Festival fills us with sadness.
His discography dates back to the late sixties, a time of free-form improvisatory sounds in the London jazz scene. In the early seventies, this began to merge with the ‘Canterbury Scene‘ and became jazz-fusion with such groups as Soft Machine, National Health and Ian Carr’s Nucleus.
For some, John Taylor was first noticed when he recorded for the ECM label as a sidesman on Jan Garbarek’s Places (1977) and Photo with Blue Sky, White Cloud, Wires, Windows and a Red Roof (1978). But then there was the trilogy of albums by Azimuth, with the trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, a Canadian long resident in the UK, and the incomparable singer Norma Winstone both of whom had emerged in the sixties.
It says much about Taylor’s personality that although his playing was integral as a sidesman, he also gave space to each member of his own groups. He had a northern European sensitivity, and every recording of his, and that includes the many shows that have been unofficially released as bootlegs and/or videos, demonstrates that he was not so much an entertainer as an explorer of his instrument, a true artist and a natural fit with ECM whose artists have a similar integrity and desire to let their chosen instruments speak for them, to us.
That he never came to Indonesia is of little matter now. After all, we have YouTube to offer such delights as this one ….
Thank you, John.