Mike Taylor (musician)
Mike Taylor was brought up by his grandparents in London and Kent, and joined the RAF for his national service. Having rehearsed and written extensively throughout the early 1960s, he recorded two albums for the Lansdowne series produced by Denis Preston: Pendulum (1966) with drummer Jon Hiseman, bassist Tony Reeves and saxophonist Dave Tomlin) and Trio (1967) with Hiseman and bassists Jack Bruce and Ron Rubin. They were issued on UK Columbia and are among the most challenging and powerful jazz recordings of their time. Original pressings are now extremely rare and expensive.
Despite his brief recording career, Taylor was a prolific and much-respected composer, several of whose pieces were played and recorded by his contemporaries. Three Taylor compositions were recorded by Cream, with lyrics by drummer Ginger Baker "Passing the Time", "Pressed Rat and Warthog" and "Those Were the Days", all of which appeared on the band's August 1968 album Wheels of Fire. He was also much admired by the members of Neil Ardley's New Jazz Orchestra, whose September 1968 recording Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe features one original Taylor composition "Ballad" and an arrangement by him of a Segovia piece "Study".
Mike Taylor drowned in the River Thames near Leigh-on-Sea, Essex in January 1969, following years of heavy drug use (principally hashish and LSD). He had been homeless for three years, and his passing went almost entirely unremarked.
In summer 2007, independent record label Dusk Fire Records released for the first time Mike Taylor Remembered, a 1973 tribute to the musician recorded by Ardley, Hiseman, Ian Carr, Barbara Thompson amongst other major modern British jazz names.
Mike's last resting place was, until recently, for many years a mystery. However, with a great deal of research and after visiting many cemeteries in the Southeast, Tony Tomlin discovered it in a Southend churchyard. (Sutton Road Cemetery. Southend-on-sea)
- Mike Taylor's page at All About Music
- Review of the Trio album by John Fordham in The Guardian 9 July 2004.
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