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Billy Taylor

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Billytaylor

Billy Taylor (1921-2010) was a jazz pianist and composer who scored animated segments on Sesame Street. These include counting guru (EKA: Episode 0276) for producer Ken Snyder and the Hubley's "V" for vitamins (EKA: Episode 1740), with Taylor playing piano for the latter. He also composed a piece for a guest appearance by Dizzy Gillespie (with Taylor playing off-camera accompaniment), entitled "Diz." (EKA: Episode 2040) Taylor also composed for The Electric Company.

Taylor was house pianist at Charlie Parker's Birdland club for years, playing with such greats as Parker, Gillespie, and Miles Davis. His best known song composition was ""I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" (1952), later recorded by Nina Simone. Taylor was also active as a broadcaster and educator, explaining jazz to the public. He began his radio career in the 1940s, performing on CBS Music 'Til Midnight but his first major showcase as a radio personality was hosting disc jockey shows for WLIB in New York in the 1960s. He later became program director, and years later, he hosted several NPR series, including Taylor Made Piano and Jazz Alive! (hosting for five years).

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