Dr. Billy Taylor's Morning Jazz

You could say jazz on Sunday Morning really didn't begin until April 19, 1981. It was then that viewers first heard the story and saw the faces of "America's music," as told by Dr. Billy Taylor. 60 Minutes Correspondent Ed Bradley looks at the accomplishments of a performer and teacher passionate about sharing his musical discoveries.




When Dr. Billy Taylor was the subject of a CBS News Sunday Morning profile, it was clear his enthusiasm for jazz was boundless.

"I'll do a master class with a group of students and yeah, someone will say, 'Well, Dr. Taylor, did you really do this?' And he'll fly up in about four times as fast as I did it! And I'd say, 'Yeah, you got it kid,'" laughs Taylor.

That passion gave CBS News Sunday Morning's founder Charles Kuralt an idea. Taylor, a professor of music, composer, fine performer of jazz, was mad a music reporter for Sunday Morning.

"I had an uncle in Washington, D.C. and I loved the way he played," says Taylor about his first experience with jazz. "I told my dad, I said, 'Well, I want to play like Uncle Bob.' And so he said, 'Well, that's OK. Uncle Bob's alright. But he's self-taught. You'll learn how to play properly.' I said, '"I don't want to learn properly. I want to play like [him]."

Taylor learned how to play like Uncle Bob soon enough. By 21, he was in the heart of the jazz world -- performing alongside giants such as Duke Ellington and Willie "The Lion" Smith on New York's 52nd street.

"I don't know of any other time in my life where I have been in the company of this many people who were on the cutting edge," says Taylor.

It wasn't long before Billy Taylor became a familiar name with a style, a following and legendary friends -- many of whom he later shared with Sunday Morning viewers.

Taylor also had a remarkable ear for young talent, recognizing many well before fame struck. He profiled 21-year-old Wynton Marsalis, 22-year-old Harry Connick, Jr. and a young Diana Krall.

But, he says his goal was much simpler.

"I wanted to say, 'Here is an interesting musician that you should know more about,'" says Taylor. "Here's something that I find fascinating."

For all that Dr. Billy Taylor has accomplished in his long life -- and of that there is much -- Sunday Morning celebrates its 25th birthday pondering all that he does just for us.
  • Rome Neal

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