A scholarship at Berklee College of Music was created in the name of longtime Boston concert producer Fred Taylor. On September 12, a benefit concert featuring Kurt Elling, Danilo Perez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Catherine Russell, Kat Edmonson, John Patitucci and Grace Kelly was held at the Berklee Performance Center. Kelly, along with her parents Bob Kelly and Irene Chang, organized the concert. And it was Kelly, in tandem with one of her mentors, trumpeter/vocalist Bo Winiker, who initially proposed the scholarship to Berklee. The concert was emceed by WBUR radio host Robin Young. Trumpeter Jason Palmer was the musical director for the performances.
Before working with Scullers until his recent dismissal from that venue, Fred Taylor had managed two of the seminal jazz clubs in the Boston area – Paul’s Mall and the Jazz Workshop – where a veritable who’s who of jazz (and rock) greats played from 1965 until 1978. Taylor also promoted the famous comeback appearance of Miles Davis back. A lifelong champion of emerging artists, Taylor was an early supporter and advocate for artists such as Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding and most recently, Grace Kelly. Spalding was among the many notable artists who contributed video tributes to Taylor. Others included Christian McBride, Harry Connick, Jr., Steve Tyrell, Bill Charlap, Ahmad Jamal and Sean Jones.
Among the speakers was Pat Metheny who shared his experiences in dealing with Fred Taylor over the years. Metheny said that when he was first playing around Boston both as a sideman with Gary Burton and as the leader of the Bright Size Life-era trio with Jaco Pastorius and Bob Moses, Taylor was encouraging and gave the trio its first real engagement with a week at the Jazz Workshop. Metheny noted that he has been working with Taylor as a promoter ever since.
During his segment of the performance at the benefit concert at Berklee, Kurt Elling said that Taylor’s greatest attribute was his faithfulness to the music.
In 2015, Taylor was the first recipient of the George Wein Impresario award, presented by Berklee. According to the event program, the Fred Taylor Endowed Scholarship Fund at Berklee “is designed to nurture gifted and deserving students who are in need of financial assistance and who are studying in the area of music business/management or professional music.”
All photos by Kofi Poku.