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Dr. Billy Taylor: Honored & NEA Performance

On December 8 jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor will be honored by the Harlem Preservation Foundation at its 2nd Annual Harlem Reunion Concert, recognizing his significant support and promotion of the legendary uptown New York City community and for serving as a worldwide jazz ambassador.

The honor will cap off one of the more emotional years in the life of Taylor, as the pianist-composer suffered a stroke this past January but slowly but surely made his way back, gracing the stage for a string of dates in late June at the famed Blue Note in New York City (as reported here).

Eric V. Tait, a spokesman for the Harlem Preservation Foundation says, “Billy Taylor is a legend and has been a jazz pioneer for many years. The fact that he’s done it for so long and so well, had gotten ill and came back, was grounds to make sure we honored him. The other reason is the Harlem Preservation Foundation’s mission. He is an innovator but he understands the roots and tradition of the music and this is to recognize how valuable he has been. It’s about passing on tradition and roots as a legacy for the incoming generation, for the kids in Harlem and the kids all over.”

Chip Jackson, Lonnie Plaxico, Marcus Strickland and Kim Thompson will play some tunes with Taylor, and comedian and jazz fan Bill Cosby will be a special guest presenter (insert pudding joke here).

Tickets for the Harlem Reunion Concert are available starting at $30, and can be purchased at the Aaron Davis Hall Box Office (212-650-7148) or through Ticketmaster (212-307-7171). All proceeds will benefit the Harlem Preservation Foundation.

But Taylor isn’t just sitting around waiting to be honored. On November 19 the good doctor will perform when the National Endowment for the Arts announces who will be the recipients of this year’s Jazz Masters Awards. The program is being expanded considerably with the addition of some brand new categories, and six NEA Jazz Masters will be named this year as opposed to the usual three. Last year’s recipients were saxophonist Jimmy Heath, vocalist Abbey Lincoln and drummer Elvin Jones.

Taylor, already a Jazz Master having been honored with the prestigious award in 1988, will be there to perform with the budding artists of the La Guardia High School for Music’s Jazz Band.

For more information on Dr. Billy Taylor check out www.billytaylorjazz.com.

Originally Published