John Taylor was born on September 25, 1942 in Manchester, England. The pianist first came to the attention of the jazz community in 1969 when he partnered with saxophonists Alan Skidmore and John Surman. In the early 1970s he was accompanist to the singer Cleo Laine and started to compose for his own sextet.
Taylor worked with many visiting artists at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London and later became a member of Scott’s quintet. He was later reunited with Surman in the short-lived group Morning Glory and in the 1980s in the Miroslav Vitous quartet. In 1977 formed the trio Azimuth with Norman Winstone and Kenny Wheeler. They made several recordings for ECM Records, performed in the United States, Europe and Canada.
The 1980s saw John working with Jan Garbarek, Enrico Evans, Gil Evans, Lee Konitz, Charlie Mariano, Tony Coe, Steve Arguelles, Stan Sulzman and David Sylvian. From 2006 he was a member of the Kenny Wheeler’s quartet and large ensemble and performed in duo and quartet settings with John Surman. During the 1990s he made several recordings with Peter Erskine Tio with bassist Palle Danielsson.
By the turn of the century he was performing and recording with a new Azimuth collaboration, the Steve Smith Quartet, Maria PiaDe Vito and Ralph Towner, toured with his new trio, received the BBC Jazz Award for Best New Work’ for his Green Man Suite and continued to record.
As an educator he was professor of Jazz Piano at the Cologne College of Music, became a Lecturer in jazz at the University of York, coached and taught undergraduate jazz musicians and was of central importance to the new Master’s degree jazz pathway and in advancing doctoral research and performance in jazz.
While performing at the Saveurs Jazz Festival in Segre, France he suffered a heart attack. Although he was resuscitated at the venue, pianist John Taylor, who occasionally performed on the organ and the synthesizer, passed away after being taken to the hospital on July 17, 2015.
Papa John DeFrancesco was born John Jasper DeFrancesco on September 12, 1940 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Growing up with a father who played reeds in swing bands including the Dorsey Brothers, he began plaing trumpet at six and did not start playing organ until his wife bought him an organ for his 23rd birthday. After a few months of nearly nonstop practicing, he was ready to perform in clubs.
By 1967 he was a part of the Philadelphia jazz scene. However, in 1979 when his son Joey turned eight and started playing professionally, he temporarily gave up his career in order to supervise his son. Johnny, his other son, has also developed into a fine guitarist.
In the 90s Papa John returned to a more active playing career and recorded two sessions for Muse Records featuring Joey on trumpet, titled Doodlin’ and Comin’ Home. Both records gained him a national reputation of his own. His organ playing is in an infectious hard bop style that compliments his sons playing and it was while working with Joey that his career was revived
Between 2001 and 2006 he released four albums, took a five-year hiatus, and then returned to release A Philadelphia Story performed by a classic Hammond B-3 trio featuring John Jr. on guitar, drummer Glenn Ferracone with guest appearances by Joey and tenor saxophonist Joe Fortunato.
Organist and vocalist Papa John DeFranceso continues to perform, tour and record.
Larry Goldings was born August 28, 1968 in Boston, Massachusetts and studied classical piano until the age of twelve. While in high school at Concord Academy his primary influences were Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, Dave McKenna, Red Garland and Bill Evans. As a young teenager, Larry studied privately with Ran Blake and Keith Jarrett.
Goldings moved to New York in 1986 to attend a newly formed jazz program under the leadership of Arnie Lawrence at The New School. During college he studied piano with Jaki Byard and Fred Hersch. While still a freshman, Sir Roland Hanna invited him to accompany him to a three-day private jazz party in Copenhagen. While there, he met Sarah Vaughan, Kenny Biurrell, Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones and had the opportunity to play in the band with Vaughan, Harry Sweets Edison and Al Cohn.
As a college student, Larry embarked on a worldwide tour with Jon Hendricks, working with him for a year. A collaboration lasting almost three years with guitarist Jim Hall followed. By 1988 he began developing his organ chops and secured a regular gig at Augie’s Jazz Bar, now Smoke on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He was featured with several bands, and his own trio with guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart got its start there.
His first release was Intimacy Of The Blues in 1991 followed by sixteen more albums as a leader and has appeared as a sideman on hundreds of recordings. Over the course of his career, Goldings distinctive keyboard sound has been sought out more and more by pop, R&B, Brazilian, and alternative artists, such as, Madeleine Peyroux, John Scofield, Carla Bley, Michael Brecker, De La Soul, India Arie, Tracy Chapman, Pat Metheny, Dave Grusin, Norah Jones, John Mayer, Sia, John Pizzarelli, Steve Gadd, Rickie Lee Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Luciana Souza, and the list goes on and on.
In 2007, Larry, DeJohnnette and Scofield captured a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group for their live album, Trio Beyond – Saudades. He has been twice awarded Best Organist/Keyboardist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and twice Best Jazz Album for Awareness and Big Stuff by the New Yorker Magazine.
As a composer his music has been used in the films Space Cowboys, Proof and Funny People. Brecker, Scofield, DeJohnette, Hall, Sia, Toots Thielemans, Curtis Stigers, James Taylor and Jane Monheit among others have recorded his compositions. Organist and keyboardist Larry Goldings continues to perform, record, tour and compose.
Bill Heid was born August 11, 1948 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and came of age hanging out in the clubs that proliferated the Hill District like the Hurricane Bar and the Crawford Grill. With all the jazz greats regularly playing in town during the Sixties he took every opportunity to sit in on piano and learn from these masters. In addition he had hometown natives Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, Errol Garner, George Benson, Eddie Jefferson, Mary Lou Williams and Stanley Turrentine to learn from.
Bill took these lessons and experiences and headed West to Detroit and on to Chicago, building a solid blues resume, touring and recording as a pianist with Jimmy Witherspoon, Koko Taylor, Alberta Adams and Fenton Robinson amongst many others. He also played jazz piano on two major Impulse/MCA recordings for Chicago guitarist Henry Johnson.
As an organist Heid has produced several jazz albums as a leader during the mid to late Nineties for Muse/Westside and Savant labels. He spent a number of years in Japan and has toured all over the world as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Soul jazz and hard bop pianist and organist Bill Heid currently performs at different venues in the Washington, DC area.
Big John Patton was born on July 12, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri. His mother, a church pianist, taught him how to play the fundamentals. When he was about 13 years old, in 1948, he began to teach himself. He was inspired by the music he heard in Kansas City, but he wanted to play beyond his hometown jazz scene.
In 1954 after high school, he headed east and found professional work in Washington D.C., he found out that R&B star Lloyd Price was playing at the Howard Theater, that he had just fired his pianist and needed a new player. John played a few bars from the introduction to “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy” and was given the job.
It was a five-year relationship that gave him an education he couldn’t have gotten elsewhere. He was Lloyd’s “straw boss” and the leader, he recruited top players including drummer Ben Dixon, who encourage him to check out the Hammond B-3 organ when they played in clubs that had one. A man called Butts first showed Patton how to set up the organ and find the right registrations. When he moved to New York in late 1959, it was his friend Herman Green who played with Lionel Hampton who helped him learn how to play it.
That same year Big John formed his own Hammond organ trio. Blue Note artist Ike Quebec became his mentor, introducing him into Blue Note and to one of the most important relationships in his career, with guitarist Grant Green. He went on to work as a sideman for Lou Donaldson for three and a half years. During the 1960s he became one of the most recognizable figures on the jazz scene and was a driving force of the sound of electric organ.
Over the years he recorded for Blue Note with Harold Alexander, George Coleman, George Braith, Don Wilkerson, Clifford Jordan, Harold Vick, Johnny Griffin, Grachan Moncur III, Ron Carter, Black Star, James “Blood” Ulmer, John Gilmore, John Zorn, Jimmy Ponder, Johnny Lytle, Red Holloway, Art Blakey and Marshall Allen to name a few.
Patton’s style has been resistant to imitation because of its space and economy, often being called minimalist. But he claimed that he emulated the sounds of his favorite trumpet and reed players. By the time the Acid Jazz movement emerged in the 1980s there was a resurgence in interest in his music in the UK and he made several trips to England where he was embraced by the Acid Jazz community.
Patton continued recording until the late Nineties and he developed a loyal following in both Japan and Europe, both of which he toured in addition to his dates in the United States. He recorded as a part of the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album Red Hot + Indigo in tribute to Duke Ellington. He recorded 16 albums as a leader and another twenty-six as a sideman.
Pianist and organist Big John Patton, a major figure in the development of the funk and blues rooted jazz known as soul jazz and considered the inspiration for the Acid Jazz movement, passed away from complications arising from diabetes in Montclair, New Jersey on March 19, 2002.