The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor

The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor

By Billy Taylor; Teresa L. Reed

Indiana University Press, Hardcover, 9780253009098, 227pp.

Publication Date: April 2013


The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor: America's Classical Musician is the autobiography of the legendary jazz ambassador whose work spans more than six decades, from the heyday of 52nd Street in 1940s New York City to CBS Sunday Morning. Beginning with his childhood in segregation-era Washington D.C., Billy Taylor recounts how he came of age as a jazz musician in smoke-filled clubs pulsating with the rhythms of bebop, and later climbed to world acclaim as an internationally recognized music educator and popular media figure. Through his life's work, Taylor fought not only for the recognition of jazz music as "America's classical music" but also for the recognition of black musicians as key contributors to the American music repertoire. Peppered with anecdotes detailing encounters with other jazz legends such as Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and many others, this autobiography is not only the life story of a jazz musician and spokesman, but is also the history of a nation grappling with racism and modernity.

About the Author

Teresa L. Reed is associate professor of music and director of the African American Studies Program at Tulsa University.