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The Jazz Life of Dr Billy Taylor

Is jazz America's classical music?

By Tom Arnold-Forster  

Billy Taylor's virtuoso performance

Dr Billy Taylor ed. Teresa L Reed (Indiana University Press, £18)

What makes a jazz life? A large dollop of vice is essential, going by the bestselling jazz autobiographies. Miles Davis’s memoir presents a world where “shooting heroin, fucking around with whores, [and] borrowing money” nestle alongside the artistic genius found in jazz dives. Charles Mingus’s Beneath the Underdog has swaggering accounts of the bassist’s sexual adventures. It includes a (probably…

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