Remembering John Taylor: “The joy he took out of music was absolutely infectious”

This evening we remember one of the great champions of jazz, John Taylor. JT, as he was fondly known, sadly passed away in July this year. He was a Visiting Artist to the jazz department at Birmingham Conservatoire for many years and along with his incredibly expertise, gave huge inspiration to staff and students alike.

Tonight, students and alumni will team up with members of staff including Liam Noble, Mark Hodgson, Hans Koller, Andrew Bain, John Turville and Richard Iles to play music that was close to JT’s heart at 7:45pm in the Recital Hall.

Since JT’s passing, many memories have come to light from his colleagues and pupils which all express their immense gratitude to this pillar of the British Jazz scene. Many talk about his generosity of spirit, others his unrivalled talents, others of deep-set humility. Jeremy Price, Head of Jazz, spoke at length about JT’s contributions to the Conservatoire and of his personal debt owed to the master. You can read more about that here.

We have gathered a few other memories below

Trevor Lines, Academic Lecturer:

“A memory (from over 25 years ago):  I was on a summer school, spending most of the week studying and hanging out with JT as much as possible – as always, very generous with his time. One evening concert I wandered in from the bar and found him up on the stage playing my bass for a student band. He gave me a self-deprecating grin and told me over a drink he’d had thoughts of being a bassist and bought a bass and Ray Brown’s book but decided eventually it wasn’t for him. Later he was behind the drums for another group of students playing the most economical swinging time you’ve ever heard. Seeing him do those things was yet another object lesson in what it’s really all about.”

Jake Steels, BMus Jazz in year 4:

“The workshops with John were really inspiring. He brought a huge amount of energy to the rehearsal process with his enthusiasm for the music. I spent a little time talking to John because of his connection to the Lake District (where I am from). He had many happy memories there.”

Dave Ferris, graduate of the BMus Jazz course:

“I don’t really know what I can say about JT that other people haven’t, other than that spending time around him always just made me really want to play the piano better. He was an inspiration not just musically but as a complete role model – he was constantly searching out new things and (to my ears anyway) still getting better right up until the end, and the joy he took out of music was absolutely infectious.”

John Taylor with Dave Holland in Birmingham Conservatoire's recital hall in 2011 (This picture was taken by the late Russ Escritt)

Andrew Bain, Assistant Course Director for BMus Jazz and Drum Tutor:

“Although I only played with John twice, those performances featured some of my fondest musical memories. His infectious energy and boundless creativity inspired awe. We had planned a two day festival that we would co-curate featuring his favourite musicians and music, but unfortunately we never got to hear how that would have sounded. I will always remember his generosity of spirit, his positivity, and his abounding enthusiasm. There is now a massive John Taylor shaped void in the world of jazz.”


Come along this evening as we remember JT with music written by him and music that close to his him. The concert will begin at 7:45pm in the Recital Hall.