I can’t remember when exactly I first encountered Taylor Roberts. It was definitely online, very likely on Facebook – where all of us (or most of us) live now. What I do remember is how obviously connected to the music and the business he was. Taylor is a dedicated musician who combines social media savvy and musicality in a hardworking bundle. Over the years, I’ve been learning a lot about music by following his work and musical journey. It’s interesting that although we’ve never met in person, I feel that his creative spirit really resonates with me.
So, I’m really happy to restart [Creative Fridays] via this interview with Taylor Roberts. Here’s some background about him for context:
Taylor Roberts has earned a reputation as one of the Southeast’s top calls for Jazz Guitar. Years of intensive study with world-renowned educators such as Barry Greene, Keith Javors, and Bunky Green have proven to continually pay off as his career expands. Multiple appearances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an international tour with the Christian Tamburr Quintet, and collaborations with some of the biggest names in Jazz today have put him on the map as one of the great rising stars in the Jazz guitar world.
Maintaining a full studio of students at the Morris Music Academy in Jacksonville Beach, Taylor is regularly passing things on that he’s picked up over the years to the next generation of guitar players. Since switching to 7-string, he has become a favorite among local and regional vocalists for duo work, and can be seen frequently playing solo guitar at events in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. While his playing style and heart are firmly steeped in tradition, he feels it’s just as important to remain relevant with his repertoire, always learning new material that will become the standards of today. Taylor currently resides in Keystone Heights, FL with his family and continues to tour, teach, and record regularly.
“…Guitarist Taylor Roberts comfortably joins [the] top tier group with his own unique and stylized approach to the art of jazz guitar. I have had the great pleasure of sharing the stage around the world with Taylor and always look forward to the musical story that unfolds.” Christian Tamburr, Internationally touring jazz vibraphonist
Now, let’s get into what he’s been up to!
1. What’s your latest project?
My latest project has been a bit of a slow crawl. The concept is a solo guitar album. I’ve been getting more into composing lately, and want the album to be at least halfway comprised of original material. The rest will be tunes that I love to play and tunes people know.
2. What inspires your music?
Other than musical heroes of mine like Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Martin Taylor, Julian Lage (this list can go on for miles!), I’d have to say my circle of close friends is a big part of what inspires me. Some of them are musicians, but most aren’t. In my own personal spiritual path, I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me. Being of service is a big part of my life, and sharing my experiences to inspire and help others is a driving factor in how I approach my music.
3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
D’Angelo – Voodoo
Wes Montgomery – Smokin at the Half Note
Kenny Garrett – Songbook
Tuck Andress – Reckless Precision
4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?
Kevin Bales. He’s relatively well-known in jazz circles, especially in the Jacksonville and Atlanta areas, but as is the case with many players, it’s a crime that he’s not in league with Herbie/Chick etc in terms of recognition. On top of being one of the best piano players around, he’s and incredibly inspiring and warm-hearted human being. Can’t say enough good things about him.
5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
Be easy to get along with. And have a good attitude. Many concepts that I try to apply to my profession also apply to everyday life. Be open-minded. Just because you don’t like a song, you’re not powerful enough to judge how a song might affect someone else. So learn it and play it. Even if it’s laborious at first, I’ve always discovered elements of songs that are enjoyable even if I didn’t initially like them. It’s not about you. It’s about the music.
6. As a 7-string solo guitarist, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
Maintaining friendships with bass players. Kidding! Mostly….
Honestly the biggest challenge has been switching back to 6 string! I don’t play 6 that often, unless it’s a pop or party band gig. When that comes up, I take Jimmy Bruno’s advice and “don’t look down.”
The learning curve wasn’t nearly as steep as I was afraid of. I tune the low string to an A, George Van Eps style, so it’s relatively easy to convert. I’d challenge any guitarist to spend a week or two with a 7-string and not wind up wanting one.
7. How do we reach you?
Next week: [Creative Fridays] #15 with cellist Dylan Lee!
[About Creative Fridays]
The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.
This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?
Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!
If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.
Thank you! 🙂
[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.
[Creative Fridays] #1 : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)
[Creative Fridays] #2 : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)
[Creative Fridays] #3 : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)
[Creative Fridays] #4 : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)
[Creative Fridays] #5 : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)
[Creative Fridays] #6 : TragiComedy
[Creative Fridays] #7 : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)
[Creative Fridays] #8 : Pete Teo
[Creative Fridays] #9 : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)
[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)
[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)
[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)
[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]
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