Bret Primack Presents: When Billy Taylor Met Ben Webster


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The latest edition of Bret “Jazz Video Guy" Primack’s blog is “Billy Taylor Meets Ben Webster.” In the fall of 1944, the very first night twenty-three year old Billy Taylor arrived in New York from Washington, D.C, he sat in at Minton's Playhouse, where Ben Webster was hanging out. Ben liked what he heard and invited Billy to audition for his Quartet, down on 52nd Street, where he was playing opposite Art Tatum. Two nights later Billy had his first New York gig.

In this new video, Billy talks about that gig, and why loved playing with Ben. The video includes an excerpt from “The Subject Is Jazz,” from 1958, with Ben and Billy playing “One O’Clock Jump.”

“One of my greatest joys has been working with Dr. Billy Taylor,” Primack explains. “Over the past few years, I've been digitizing his video archives and posting many classic performances on his website. So far we have 72 clips on the site, including Billy’s performances with Max Roach, Cannonball Adderley and Charles Mingus.”

In the early 50s, Billy Taylor acted on television, playing Jelly Roll Morton in a docu-drama. Before that, Billy had performed in several Broadway shows, but never in a speaking capacity. In Bret’s new video, “Billy Taylor Meets Jelly Roll Morton,” we see Billy as Jelly Roll, speaking about his music, and then playing Morton's “Tiger Rag."

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