Tom Taylor


Tom Taylor is an internationally known composer, recording artist, and jazz guitarist. (“A virtuoso guitarist”?Mark Arnest, Colorado Springs Gazette) His recordings feature such greats as the Kronos Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, and mandolin virtuoso David Grisman. Self-taught on guitar during the blues revival of the mid 1960s, Taylor absorbed the homegrown music of America. A partial list of artists and organizations he performed or arranged music for includes Bobby Shew, Phil Woods, Bill Watrous, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Tiny Moore of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, the Platters, the Drifters, the Coasters, US Air Force Falconairres, Colorado Springs Symphony, and the.Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center musicals. Along with the pop, country, rock, and jazz musicians, Taylor took note of the perfect time and compositional approach of other entertainers he worked with such as Bob Hope, Brian Boitano, and Bob Newhart. Drafted into the US Army in 1972, Taylor was deemed a more capable guitarist than rifleman and toured the mid-west with the Army showband out of Chicago. As a student at San Jose State University in the late 1970s, Taylor studied composition with Lou Harrison and Alan Strange. Taylor became the first person to win a California University composition contest with a jazz composition. (“Taylor’s music is a hybrid with integrity”?San Francisco Chronicle) Taylor was also appointed the first jazz guitar instructor at San Jose State University while still a student. Currently he is the jazz guitar instructor at Colorado College and the director of the Colorado College Tiger Jazz Ensemble. Eschewing music labels as mere marketing devices, Taylor agrees with Duke Ellington that there are really only two types of music: good and the other kind. When his ?Big Basin Breakdown? (?a catchy, unselfconscious blend of traditional counterpoint with bluegrass??Colorado Springs Gazette) was performed at the historic Hercules Hall in Munich, it brought down the house and had folks dancing in the aisle. In 1997 Taylor again mixed genres when he won Musician Magazine?s Best Unsigned Artists contest with a jazz instrumental, ?Aubade,? composed using the sonata allegro rhetoric of classical masters. Taylor?s time as an avid outdoors enthusiast can be detected in compositions like his ?Colorado Suite,? commissioned by the Colorado Council on the Arts for the Colorado Springs Symphony, and his ?Ishi Sings for Chamber Orchestra and Archival Recording.? Along with music composition and arranging, Taylor also is a freelance writer. His essay in High Country News (Vol. 48 No. 12) describes his 30-year observations of pitch migration in the song of Chickadees on his land ? song quite similar to the pentatonic melodies used by Ishi?s tribe. Classical music critic David Sckolnik describes the Ishi piece in this way: ?The world was shocked when, in 1911, Ishi, the lone survivor of the Northern California Yahi Native American tribe, “surrendered” to the modern age. ?During his final years, he recorded stories and song in his native language on Edison wax cylinders. Guitarist and composer Tom Taylor, of the performance faculty at Colorado College, composed a 17-minute evocative setting for three extracts of Ishi that successfully integrates the sound of modern American music in the Copland tradition with the modalities inherent to Ishi’s tunes. ?What could have been nothing more than a novelty turns out to be a deeply moving reflection on the collision between the ancient and modern worlds. Most impressive is how Taylor creates musical portals through which Ishi is seemingly channeled.? Upon hearing the piece Grammy Award winning conductor JoAnn Falletta pronounced it, ?Absolutely electrifying. It is amazing.? Taylor currently lives, plays, and writes in his log home at 7,500 feet in the Black Forest of Colorado with his wife, dogs, and cat.



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