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On Our Radar: June Friday Jazz Featuring Curtis Taylor at The High Museum of Art

By Kadejah Brathwaite, Intern

At just 10 years old, a spark was born in a curious boy who had the desire to learn to play the trumpet. He continuously practiced with a fierce determination to perfect his craft and little did he know that spark would create a flame of passion and later turn him into a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter.

Curtis Taylor plays with a lyrical and melodic improvisational style. His blend of soulfulness, harmonic sensibility, and rhythm makes for an unforgettable sound that directly connects with the soul of the listener. He says, “When played honestly, music is the ultimate conveyor of truth and beauty.”

If you’re a lover of Jazz, you won’t want to miss Taylor’s performance when he graces the High Museum of Art’s stage for a live performance this Friday.

The native Ohioan was influenced musically by his school’s band director, Shawn Nichols, who encouraged him to explore the world of jazz. Taylor knew he belonged in the music industry after experiencing the music of trumpeters Jon Faddis and Steve Enos. His professionalism developed, observing tenured musicians and educators who modeled their expertise, while they taught and performed with him. After college, he performed and recorded with renowned artists including, Patrice Rushen, Billy Childs, Gary Novak and Karen Clark-Sheard. He has also traveled internationally with the James Carter’s Quintet and played with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut including in a notable concert performance at Kennedy Center recorded for NPR’s Jazzset and appearance at the Spoleto Jazz Festival.

In 2014, the Grammy Award winner relocated to southern California and teamed up with producer Kamau Kenyatta and also became California State University’s San Marcos jazz ensemble director. As Taylor focuses on sharpening his students’ skills, his resume continues to evolve.

Yema Thomas, coordinator of Public Programs for the High Museum of Art, said his standout presence when he played trumpet in the ensemble of another featured musician during a 2018 Friday Jazz events performance caused the High to ask him back. “We were impressed with his ability and stage presence … We’re always looking for acts who will keep the crowd engaged and perform fun sets with lots of variety. Curtis definitely fits that criteria.”

“Friday Jazz is perfect for a date night,” Thomas added. “You can grab a drink, enjoy live music and check out the Museum’s permanent collection and exhibitions.  It’s really a can’t-miss event for Atlantans.”


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