Curtis Taylor Takes the Lead on Debut CD #Hashtagged
In 2014, Bedford native Curtis Taylor won his first Grammy award as a sideman with acclaimed jazz vocalist Gregory Porter.
Now the young trumpeter can add band leader to his resume as he steps out with his debut recording - #Hashtagged - which he spotlights at a series of local concerts this week.
Growing up in Bedford, Taylor discovered how music can come to the rescue just when you need it most.
"Music provided surrogate fathers for me at a really important time in my life. I lost my dad at an early age. Music was there to provide that comfort at a very difficult time," Taylor said.
Initially Taylor wanted to learn to play the saxophone in school but his mom chose a more practical option. Taylor and his mother had just moved to Bedford and finances were tight after paying the deposit and covering the costs of the move.
"A student-model saxophone was maybe 3,000 dollars at the time and a student-model trumpet was 300. She said, 'You're going to play the trumpet," he said with a laugh.
After studying jazz trumpet at Michigan State University and getting his Master's degree at Rutgers University, Taylor landed that sideman gig for Gregory Porter thanks to Porter's producer Kumau Kenyatta.
"I met him in Detroit at a jam session in 2006. At the time I had no idea who he was. He just became enamoured of my playing," Taylor said.
The two stayed in contact and whenever Kenyatta had an opportunity to put Taylor on a recording project he did.
"I'm forever grateful to Kumau Kenyatta for the experiences I've had and the recordings I've been on because of him," Taylor said.
As for Porter and his vocal prowess, Taylor's amazed by Porter's authentic style as a singer.
"He could be singing about socks and you're like, 'You know what? I'm going to get a pair of socks," Taylor said.
Taylor currently lives in San Diego but is back home in Northeast Ohio for the holidays with a few local concerts mixed in.
Whenever Taylor returns home to take part in the Tri-C Jazz Fest, he's amazed by the young local talent.
"Every time I come back here, I'm just blown away by the musicianship of the new talent that's coming up. Kids that are like 17, 18, 19, and they are just playing circles around where my peer group was at that age," Taylor said.
One of the reasons Taylor thinks the talent pool is growing in Northeast Ohio is because of the local climate.
"There's a rich history and lineage of trumpeters that come from this area. Maybe because in the winter months you can't do anything but practice," Taylor joked.
Listen to the full interview: