Jazz Pianist Billy Taylor Gives Final Performance

Classic Arts News   Jazz Pianist Billy Taylor Gives Final Performance
Jazz pianist and educator Billy Taylor and his trio will perform for the last time tonight at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.

Taylor, bassist Chip Jackson, and drummer Winard Harper, with guest trumpeter Jon Faddis, will perform two sets featuring a tribute to trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Faddis's mentor. Both sets are sold out.

Announcing his retirement from performance last year, Taylor said that he was pleased to be able to retire with his abilities intact. "I've always wanted to stop performing publicly when I was still feeling good about my playing," he said. "I didn't want to hang around until I felt bad."

The 83-year-old Taylor will continue to serve as artistic advisor for jazz at the Kennedy Center and to teach at the University of Massachusetts.

Since suffering a stroke in 2001, Taylor has worked to return his playing to its former level. "I can play anything I used to play, but not as fast," he said. "If I can reach out and touch somebody when I play, I know it's working."

Taylor began his 60-year career with the Ben Webster Quartet. In 1951, he became the house pianist at Birdland, and began to lead his own trio shortly thereafter. He has also served as a highly influential teacher and ambassador for jazz, most prominently in a radio series for National Public Radio and on the television program CBS Sunday Morning.

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