John Taylor, leading UK pianist

Roger Farbey pays tribute to John Taylor, the inspirational virtuoso pianist and stalwart of the jazz scene for almost 50 years, who has died suddenly during a festival in France

Virtuoso pianist John Taylor (pictured right) has died suddenly aged 72. He was performing on Friday 17 July at a jazz festival in Western France when he suffered a heart attack. Although successfully resuscitated at the venue he died later in hospital on Saturday 18 July.

Taylor was a stalwart of the British jazz scene from the late 1960s onwards, later becoming an internationally renowned player. He made substantial contributions to recordings by Harry Beckett, Graham Collier, Alan Skidmore and John Surman. He also played on Edge of Time, the debut album by his former wife Norma Winstone. His own debut album Pause And Think Again featured a host of leading British jazz musicians including Surman and Kenny Wheeler.

It was his friend Wheeler who played a big part in Taylor’s life, and the pianist played on no fewer than 10 of the trumpeter’s albums. Taylor recorded over 80 albums, many for the ECM label, either as leader or sideman, including ones with Charlie Haden, Miroslav Vitous, Jan Garbarek, Ian Carr, John Dankworth and the group he formed with Wheeler and Winstone, Azimuth.

His final recordings were made for the Cam Jazz label, a solo piano album In Two Minds (2014) and the forthcoming quartet album 2081. A 2013 recording with fellow pianist Richard Fairhurst, Duets, is due for release on the Basho label in August.

Roger Farbey

(A fuller appreciation of John Taylor will appear in a future print edition of Jazz Journal)

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