The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor

Overview

The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor: America's Classical Musician is the autobiography of the legendary jazz ambassador whose work spans more than six decades, from the heyday of 52nd
Street in 1940s New York City to CBS Sunday Morning. Beginning with his childhood in segregation-era Washington D.C., Billy Taylor recounts how he came of age as a jazz musician in smoke-filled clubs pulsating with the rhythms of bebop, and later climbed to world acclaim as an internationally ...

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The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor

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Overview

The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor: America's Classical Musician is the autobiography of the legendary jazz ambassador whose work spans more than six decades, from the heyday of 52nd
Street in 1940s New York City to CBS Sunday Morning. Beginning with his childhood in segregation-era Washington D.C., Billy Taylor recounts how he came of age as a jazz musician in smoke-filled clubs pulsating with the rhythms of bebop, and later climbed to world acclaim as an internationally recognized music educator and popular media figure. Through his life's work, Taylor fought not only for the recognition of jazz music as "America's classical music" but also for the recognition of black musicians as key contributors to the American music repertoire. Peppered with anecdotes detailing encounters with other jazz legends such as Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke
Ellington, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and many others,
this autobiography is not only the life story of a jazz musician and spokesman, but is also the history of a nation grappling with racism and modernity.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

David Brent Johnson

"As a highly-esteemed jazz pianist, educator, and media figure who helped popularize the concept of jazz as "America’s classical music," Billy Taylor’s contributions to jazz were significant, and his story intersects with some of the music’s most fascinating figures and historical chapters. As a jazz education pioneer and well-liked spokesperson for the music, Mr. Taylor is a civil rights figure in his own way, and this gives his book a value that transcends the normal boundaries of music biography." —David Brent Johnson, Jazz Director, WFIU

Emmett G. Price III

"The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor is an impeccable memoir by one of America’s most celebrated renaissance men. The consummate master musician, intellect, educator, humanitarian and activist reveals the steep challenges and overwhelming victories of his life journey in a manner that exemplify his tremendous dedication to making the world a better place and his demonstrative commitment to excellence. The writing is as fluid as it is gorgeous, captivating and inspiring. This monumental memoir offers an in-depth and critical analysis of American history through the lens of one the most decorated African American creative artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Filled with poignant reflection on the importance of the African-African American cultural continuum as a foundation for American culture, this memoire takes us from the hey days of 'Swing Street' to the most prestigious concert halls around the world with an insider’s tour of the meritorious metamorphosis of William E. Taylor, Jr. into the widely celebrated, Dr. Billy Taylor. From amazing details of interactions with Malcolm X, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Coltrane and Mary Lou Williams to the behind-the-scenes inspirations for compositions such as 'I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,' 'Don’t Go Down South' and Peaceful Warrior; this is a must read by anyone who claims to be remotely interested in American music, history, arts and culture." —Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D, Executive Editor of Encyclopedia of African American Music

Dr. David N. Baker

"In this excellent collaboration with author Teresa Reed, Dr. Billy Taylor, one of the most beloved and iconic figures in the jazz world, tells his extraordinary life story in his own words with characteristic humility, warmth, and eloquence. This is a book of major importance not only to the jazz field but also to the study of the African American social and cultural experience in the 20th and early 21st centuries. It is a must read—I couldn't put it down!" —Dr. David N. Baker, Chair, Jazz Studies, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music; National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Master

Jazztimes
"The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor... written with academic Theresa L. Reed, does his high esteem justice. Without sacrificing the man's integrity, the book captures Dr. Taylor's wide-eyed enthusiasm for jazz and for his missions to further the music's tradition and expand its audience." —Jazztimes
NPR

"...Those of us who had the privilege of hearing him speak will recognize how accurately Reed captures his spirit and his enthusiasm for the music to which he dedicated his life." —NPR

JazzTimes

"The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor... does his high esteem justice. Without sacrificing the man's integrity, the book captures Dr. Taylor's wide-eyed enthusiasm for jazz and for his missions to further the music's tradition and expand its audience." —JazzTimes

From the Publisher
"...Those of us who had the privilege of hearing him speak will recognize how accurately Reed captures his spirit and his enthusiasm for the music to which he dedicated his life." —NPR

"The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor is an impeccable memoir by one of America’s most celebrated renaissance men. The consummate master musician, intellect, educator, humanitarian and activist reveals the steep challenges and overwhelming victories of his life journey in a manner that exemplify his tremendous dedication to making the world a better place and his demonstrative commitment to excellence. The writing is as fluid as it is gorgeous, captivating and inspiring. This monumental memoir offers an in-depth and critical analysis of American history through the lens of one the most decorated African American creative artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Filled with poignant reflection on the importance of the African-African American cultural continuum as a foundation for American culture, this memoire takes us from the hey days of 'Swing Street' to the most prestigious concert halls around the world with an insider’s tour of the meritorious metamorphosis of William E. Taylor, Jr. into the widely celebrated, Dr. Billy Taylor. From amazing details of interactions with Malcolm X, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Coltrane and Mary Lou
Williams to the behind-the-scenes inspirations for compositions such as 'I Wish I Knew How
It Would Feel To Be Free,' 'Don’t Go Down South' and Peaceful Warrior; this is a must read by anyone who claims to be remotely interested in American music, history, arts and culture."
—Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D, Executive Editor of Encyclopedia of African American
Music

Smooth Jazz News

"This must-read collaboration weaves not only the story of a highly esteemed jazz great and genre ambassador, but it is also a narrative on racism and the social influence of jazz." —Smooth Jazz News

New York City Jazz Record

"This book (including Dr. Teresa L. Reed’s eloquent introduction) captures with great clarity and accuracy the character of this man. Taylor not only always aspired to excellence, he was also
humble and generous of word and deed. The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor provides the backstory of why he must be remembered as one of the major leading lights of America’s classical music." —New York City Jazz Record

Jazzwise

"[C]o-author Reed has done an exemlary job of making the story flow in Taylor's own words." —Jazzwise

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253009098
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 5/13/2013
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,151,373
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Billy Taylor (1921-2010) served as the Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale
University, Artistic Advisor for Jazz to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Board
Member on the National Council for the Arts. A lifelong spokesperson for jazz, he hosted radio shows in New York, on National Public Radio, and became the jazz correspondent on CBS Sunday Morning. With over 23 honorary doctoral degrees, Dr. Billy Taylor is also the recipient of two Peabody Awards, an
Emmy, a Grammy and a host of prestigious and highly coveted prizes, such as the National Medal of
Arts, the Tiffany Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Downbeat Magazine, and election to the
Hall of Fame for the International Association for Jazz Education.

Teresa L. Reed is Director of the School of Music at the University of Tulsa where she teaches music theory and
African-American music.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chronology of the Life of William Edward Taylor
Jr.

1. Beginnings: 1921–1938
2. College Years:
1938–1942
3. Making Waves: 1943–1946
4. The Subject Is Jazz:
1946–1958
5. From "Tobacco Tags" to the Urban Airwaves: 1959–1968
6.
How It Feels to Be Free: 1969–1990
7.
Reflections

Discography
Selected Publications Authored by Dr. Billy
Taylor
Index

Indiana University Press

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