Tragic news: English pianist dies at French festival

London Jazz News shares with great sadness the death of John Taylor, a hugely versatile pianist who worked with Cleo Laine, Jan Garbarek, Gil Evans and the Smith Quartet and composed many choral works. He was 72.

John was performing in Stephane Kerecki’s band at the French Saveurs Jazz Festival when he suffered a heart attack on stage. He died late Friday night in hospital.

Among other teaching posts, he was professor of jazz in Cologne, from 1993.

Our sympathies to his family and friends.

 

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  • I came across John Taylor in the late 1960s and early 70s when I was first developing an interest in jazz. He had a subtlety of touch and boundless creative improvisational ideas that enhanced his reputation both in the UK and Europe. Along with Michael Gibbs and Neil Ardley, Taylor has been a giant of the UK jazz scene, but perhaps a little unrecognised as such. His musical contribution will be sadly missed.

  • I loved his work on the early Harry Beckett albums. There was a brittleness but also a warmth in his playing. I last saw him in a tiny church in a small Dorset village called Plush where he was playing a small but distinguished music festival they stage there every year. Alfred Brendel had graced the Festival in previous years. In jazz terms John was in the same caliber. His death is a huge loss to the jazz world in Britain and abroad.

  • I first saw John Taylor in the late 80s as a school student. His playing was fantastically fluent above all, with a few angular quirks and some really beautifully tender lines. Over the years I saw him in many different situations – completely solo, with Kenny Wheeler Quintet, with the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, in Duet with John Surman. His melodic invention at the piano was as good as any I have heard, and he was always quite humble and never aloof after gigs. Truly this is an enormous loss for European Jazz.

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