Bret Primack's documentary tells the story of a remarkable man who was a superb Jazz musician, composer, broadcaster, educator, advocate and more, Dr. Billy Taylor.
Dr. Taylor, as he preferred to be called (he earned a doctorate in music education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1975), was a living refutation of the stereotype of jazz musicians as unschooled, unsophisticated and inarticulate, an image that was prevalent when he began his career in the 1940s, and that he did as much as any other musician to erase.
Dr. Taylor probably had a higher profile on television than any other jazz musician of his generation. He had a long run as a cultural correspondent on the CBS News program "Sunday Morning" and was the musical director of David Frost's syndicated nighttime talk show from 1969 to 1972.
Well educated and well spoken, he came across, Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times in a review of a 1996 nightclub performance, as "a genial professor," which he was: he taught jazz courses at Long Island University, the Manhattan School of Music and elsewhere. But he was also a compelling performer and a master of the difficult art of making jazz accessible without watering it down.
(July 24, 1921 â€“ December 28, 2010)
was an American jazz pianist, composer, broadcaster and educator. He was the Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music at East Carolina University in Greenville, and since 1994, he was the artistic director for jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Taylor was a jazz activist. He sat on the Honorary Founders Board of The Jazz Foundation of America. In 1989, Billy Taylor, Ann Ruckert, Herb Storfer and Phoebe Jacobs started The Jazz Foundation to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians, later including musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina.
Billy Taylor was also one of the foremost jazz educators. He lectured in colleges, served on panels and travelled worldwide as a jazz ambassador. Critic Leonard Feather once said, "It is almost indisputable that Dr. Billy Taylor is the world's foremost spokesman for jazz."