Art Taylor

A very valuable musician who was practically Prestige’s house drummer during the 1956 to 1962 period, Art Taylor (1929-1995) always swung, was creative within hard bop, and added fire to each session in which he appeared.


Taylor’s first main musical job was with trumpeter Howard McGhee in 1948. He had associations with Coleman Hawkins, Buddy DeFranco, Bud Powell, Art Farmer, Miles Davis, and George Wallington (1954-1956) and led Art Taylor’s Wailers before his freelance activities dominated his career.


Along the way, he led an album apiece for Prestige and New Jazz. Taylor’s Wailers mostly features the drummer leading an all-star group of young greats consisting of trumpeter Donald Byrd, altoist Jackie McLean, Charlie Rouse on tenor, pianist Ray Bryant, and veteran bassist Wendell Marshall. In the repertoire are the original version of Bryant’s "Cubano Chant” and early renditions of a pair of Thelonious Monk songs ("Well, You Needn’t” and "Off Minor”). Wrapping up the CD is a version of "C.T.A.” played by Taylor in a quartet with tenor-saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, and bassist Paul Chambers.


Taylor’s Tenors, from 1959, is a jam session–flavored quintet set with tenors Charlie Rouse and Frank Foster. In addition to group originals, the band plays Jackie McLean’s "Fidel” and two more Monk songs ("Straight, No Chaser” and "Rhythm-a-ning”).


In 1963 Art Taylor moved to Europe where, during the next 20 years, he worked regularly (including with Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin) and interviewed many of his fellow musicians for his book Notes and Tones. After returning to the U.S., he went back to freelancing and leading a new version of the Wailers before his 1995 death.