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 me with sadness.
His discography dates back to the late sixties, a time when I was listening to the ‘Canterbury Scene‘ and had little time for the then current free-form improvisatory sounds emanating from London’s jazz scene. When the two strands merged into jazz-fusion with Soft Machine, National Health and Ian Carr’s Nucleus I started to take notice of the jazz musicians who ‘crossed over’.
The first time I ‘noticed’ John Taylor was in 1979/80 when I became a ‘fan’ of the ECM label, via Eberhard Weber’s Fluid Rustle. An avid reader of album sleeves, I was drawn to Jan Garbarek; Taylor is in the groups which recorded Places (1977) and Photo with Blue Sky, White Cloud, Wires, Windows and a Red Roof (1978).
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, a natural fit with ECM whose artists demonstrate an integrity by letting their music speak. Every recording of his that I have, and there are many, shows that he was not so much an entertainer as an explorer, a true artist.
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.