Taylor Cook

This week’s featured artist is saxophonist Taylor Cook, who was nominated for the JAZZ.FM91 Mary Alice Stuart Award in 2010.

A native of Penticton, BC, Taylor moved to Toronto to study at the University of Toronto, where he completed his undergraduate degree in the Jazz Studies program. Equally adept on saxophone, flute and clarinet, his teachers have included Larry Crawford, Alex Dean, Phil Dwyer, Gene Hardy, Stu Goldberg, John Johnson, Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry, Tim Ries, and Perry White.

Taylor’s debut album, Here We Go, was released in 2008 as part of a tour of Western Canada with guest saxophonist Campbell Ryga. His other recording projects include For Lilia and The Tayster Menu. His upcoming full length release will be entitled The Cook Book.

Currently, Taylor performs throughout the Toronto area with his own groups as well as other groups including the Toronto Jazz Orchestra, Band Bahja Brass, and Yasgurs Farm. He also performs in various theatre productions and maintains a busy teaching studio.

Taylor took some time to discuss some of his various musical activities:

1) You graduated from the University of Toronto Jazz Studies program. What was that experience like?

My experiences at U of T far exceeded what I expected when I entered the program.  While I was there I was able to study with the best musicians and educators in the country through private lessons, ensembles, and in a classroom setting, all while sharing that experience with a relatively small and extremely talented, hardworking student group.

2) You were nominated for the JAZZ.FM91 Mary Alice Stuart Award for your outstanding academic and musical work at the University of Toronto. How has being nominated helped you in your personal and professional development?

It was a great honour being nominated for the scholarship.  Getting recognized for what you are working hard at is always a great confidence booster and source of motivation.  Being nominated for the JAZZ.FM91 Mary Alice Stuart Award, an award that is well recognized, is something I am proud to have on my resume.

3) The JAZZ.FM91 scholarship program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity and kindness! I would be interested to know their personal experience with music and how music has and continues to impact them.  Most importantly, I am curious as to how they would like to see that positive interaction with music passed on to others and what I can do help to accomplish that. Then a couple more “Thank Yous!”

4) Why is music education important?

As an active educator and someone who continues to study music, specifically jazz, I think music education is extremely important both for those performing as well as those listening to music.  Educators get the opportunity to pass down the art form as they know it so that someone else can experience it in their own way.  Most importantly, education increases the awareness of the art form, which is an integral part of enriching the personal experience for the listener.  The skills, theoretical approach, discipline and work ethic that I have learned through studying and the performance of music are transferable to every aspect of life, something I attempt to pass onto my students, supporters, and listeners.

5) Since being nominated for the scholarship, what have you been doing?

I finished the Jazz Studies program in 2011 and followed that with a 7-day tour of BC with my quintet after releasing the live recording from my 4th year recital.  I have played in pit orchestras for a large variety of productions as well as perform regularly with the Toronto Jazz Orchestra, for private events, weddings and with Yasgurs Farm, a 12-piece funk and soul band.  I teach saxophone, clarinet, composition, and theory out of my downtown studio as well as conduct clinics at many schools in the GTA and at Long & McQuade.  I work part-time at Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop, which I enjoy since I am an avid cyclist and a triathlete. This past summer I released a new 4 Track EP The Tayster Menu, a prequel for my upcoming full length CD The Cook Book

6) What are your plans for the future?

My big project right now is the upcoming release of a new CD called The Cook Book! The project will be recorded in the spring and is slated for release in August 2015. The goal of the project is to present my original material through small and large ensemble configurations as well as new arrangements of some of my previously released compositions.  The project has allowed me to push my boundaries as a composer, arranger, and performer, and I am very excited about it.

7) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

With the arrangements and writing that I am doing for The Cook Book, I have been listening to Phil Dwyer’s  Changing Seasons and Charlie Parker with Strings for inspiration.  For the larger ensemble arrangements I have been drawing on the sounds of the Rob McConnell Tentet’s Thank You Ted and The Terry Promane Dave Young Octet – Vol.1.  I encourage anyone to check out all of these recordings!

8) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

Full details about upcoming performances, teaching, and information about The Cook Book can be found on my website www.taylorcook.com. I can be reached by email at taylorwdcook@gmail.com and on twitter by following @taylorcookmusic.

9) Is there anything else that you want to add?

As a way to fund the upcoming CD I have created The Cookbook Participation Project, a crowd-sourced funding platform.  It is a way to not only pre-order the CD but to experience the creative process from concept to completed product in a few different ways. Full details are on my website under the ‘Cook Book’ tab.  Thanks for reading!