Billy Taylor Is 88

Today is Billy Taylor’s 88th brthday. It has not gone unnoticed by his publicists that, coincidentally, the piano has 88 keys. Appropriately, they have posted on his web site 88 videos of Taylor playing in a variety of contexts; speaking informatively on CBS Sunday Morning, where for years he did commentary; and being interviewed by Charles Kuralt, Charlie Rose, Charles Osgood and William F. Buckley, Jr., among others.
It is worth noting that Taylor and Dave Brubeck have long maintained a mutual admiration society. Brubeck is also 88, and one of those web site videos brings us the two of them playing 176 keys. Michael Moore is the bassist, Randy Jones the drummer.

“Take The ‘A’ Train,” which you just heard, was Duke Ellington’s theme song. Taylor and Brubeck were guest pianists at the 70th birthday party President Richard Nixon threw for Ellington at the White House in 1969. I happened to be standing nearby at the afternoon rehearsal in the East Room when a photographer asked the two of them to pose together. Taylor said, “Sure, something might rub off,” eliciting a wide grin from Brubeck.
Happy Birthday, Billy.

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  1. Gary Alexander says

    Not only is Billy Taylor turning 88 today, but a half dozen jazz pianists are now or soon will be 88, namely….
    Hank Jones, 91 next Friday; George Shearing turns 90 in August; Marian McPartland is 89 or 91 (sources differ), Dave Brubeck turned 88 last December and John Bunch turns 88 later this year.
    Not many other jazz legends are over 90 — only Gerald Wilson to my knowledge. Anyone else know some jazz legends still swinging at 90? Or do piano players win the longevity lottery?

  2. says

    Billy Taylor was a great inspiration to me as a teenager; and still is I should add. I bought all his piano books and studied them assiduously especially the the way he voiced the chords for both hands.
    Long live the masters.

  3. Rich Juliano says

    Dr. Taylor’s regular segments on CBS Sunday Morning were always enlightening and a tremendous influence on me as I learned about the music as a teenager in the early ’80’s. He did thoughtful profiles/interviews of great jazz figures – some well-known, some “deserving of wider recognition,” as the old phrase went. I first learned about Michel Petrucciani and many others through these features. I just wish they could be collected on DVD, or at least posted somewhere on-line as a group. They would be a formidable document on a par with Marian McPartland’s radio shows (some of which can be found on CD) or Ben Sidran’s interviews (which he released as a CD collection a few years back).