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Ross Taggart 1967-2013

Posted on | January 9, 2013 | 15 Comments

by admin

ROSS TAGGART (Brian Nation photo)

Ross Taggart passed away this morning at about 2:00 AM. Equally the master of both piano and tenor saxophone, Ross was one one of Vancouver’s finest and most beloved musicians, admired not only for his superior musicianship but for his humour and generosity of spirit. He is already greatly missed.

Peter Hum posted this this morning:

Vancouver-based saxophonist and pianist Ross Taggart has died. The powerful and well-liked player, Victoria-born and -bred, had been hospitalized in the fall for renal cancer, and a sold-out benefit concert was staged for him in late November.

Read the whole article…

Fred Stride remembers Ross: “I Also Play Piano” – My Time With Ross Taggart

The Globe and Mail obituary: Ross Taggart was the heart of Vancouver’s vibrant jazz scene (Jan 23, 2013)

Below is a brief bio from the Yamaha web site:

Ross Taggart has been an important part of the Vancouver jazz scene since 1985. He has played piano and tenor saxophone for audiences in Canada, the United States, Cuba, Columbia, Brazil, Panama, Guatemala, England, Ireland and Holland. Ross spent two years studying in New York City with saxophone legends George Coleman, Clifford Jordan and J.R. Monterose under the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. He has also studied in Toronto with great Canadian pianists Don Thompson and Bernie Senensky.

Ross has been a member of the Juno award winning Hugh Fraser Quintet since 1988, while also performing with the Ian McDougall Sextet, the Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation (VEJI), the Jill Townsend Big Band, Fred Stride’s Westcoast Jazz Orchestra, the Bill Coon Quartet, the Sharon Minemoto Quintet, and his own groups. He has shared the stage and/or recorded with the talents of Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Charles McPherson, Slide Hampton, Eddie Daniels, Lionel Hampton, Tommy Banks, Phil Woods, Bud Shank, Kenny Wheeler, P.J. Perry, Rob McConnell, Don Thompson, Fraser MacPherson, Eric Alexander, Bobby Shew, Terry Gibbs, Phil Nimmons, Pat LaBarbera, Jay Clayton, Benny Powell, Chuck Israels, Donald Bailey and Sam Noto. In addition to performing with the above jazz artists, Ross has also worked with the Arts Club Theatre in productions of “Ain’t Misbehavin”, and “Five Guys Named Moe”, Colin James, the Powder Blues, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, the CBC Radio Orchestra, David Foster and Raffi.

Ross has taught and adjudicated extensively for several years and has been a faculty member in the Jazz Studies Department at Capilano College since 1998. He has done several national and regional recordings for both English and French CBC radio and television. Ross has been featured on numerous recordings with among others, Hugh Fraser, Ian McDougall, Charles McPherson, as well as four CDs as a leader. Ross’ debut recording, Ross Taggart & Co. has received critical acclaim and was nominated for best jazz album from the West Coast Music Awards in 1999.

In December 2001, The Ross Taggart Quartet released the CD Thankfully, recorded live at the Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver. The same month, Ross and pianist Bob Murphy released a duo CD of original music entitled Mysteries And Tall Tales. In December 2002, Ross and vocalist Joani Taylor released the CD, A State Of Grace.


15 Responses to “Ross Taggart 1967-2013”

  1. tony wilson
    January 9th, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    ross was one of the good guys. one of the funniest people i have ever met. him and chris startup were a great team. as great a musician as ross was he was an equally great person. he will be sorely missed by allwho knew him r.i.p. ross

  2. Gavin Walker
    January 9th, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    Words fail me with this great loss. My hopes are dashed for a miraculous recovery and a continuance of Ross’ great talent as a musician, human being and friend. He is now pain free and and his spirit can mingle with all of his musical heros. RIP Mr. Ross Taggart.

  3. Bill Sample
    January 9th, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    I am very saddened by this news, but there is some solace knowing the pain is gone. Now it’s our pain. RIP Ross, love you always.

  4. James O. Stewart
    January 9th, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

    So very glad my young, jazz musician son got to meet, and hear this legend of the Canadian jazz establishment play with the Miles Black Count Basie Octet at Hermann’s this past August. Ken Lister had given him a CD of the Ross Taggart Trio during a lesson, and he had been struck by the elegance of Ross’s piano playing. During the concert at Hermann’s, which featured many top West Coast musicians, my son told me that all the soloists were great, but that Ross alone was “right inside that music”, fully capturing the feeling of Count Basie Swing, sounding like Lester Young. Neither my son, nor I, ever heard a bad word about Ross. To the contrary, everyone we met who had met him spoke of his warmth, wit, and generosity of spirit. Students who had had contact with him invariably spoke of what a positive experience it was. Very sad to lose such a role model for young musicians, and for his seemingly many musical friends who will miss his comraderie and playing. At rest now, but his music and example goes on.

  5. Jim degroot
    January 9th, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

    I knew Ross as a friend more than as a musician. His gentle nature and kindness will never be forgotten. A prince of a man who’s kind heart and thoughtfulness towards others is something I will always strive to match. Rest in peace.

  6. Marke Andrews
    January 10th, 2013 @ 12:38 am

    This is a tremendous loss for our city, our culture, our music. As devastated as we all feel, I get the sense that Ross wouldn’t want us to mourn too long, he’d want us out there supporting the next generation of musicians for which he laid the groundwork. Peace, friend.

  7. Conn Stewart
    January 10th, 2013 @ 2:01 am

    I was so lucky to get to meet Mr. Taggart and hear him play live. I wanted to honour him in some way I heard he was ill, so it meant so much to be able to travel over and play with my duo partner Kyle Gorenko at the guest jam at his benefit. My dad said it would be appropriate to post the letter I sent him in hospital. It pretty much says how I feel.
    Nov. 4, 2012

    Dear Mr.Taggart,

    I am a young musician who, like yourself, fell in love with jazz, the tenor saxophone, and the piano. I first heard of you from my saxophone teacher, Steve Jones, who greatly admires you and has so many good things to say about you. I discovered your music when Ken Lister gave me your Presenting the Ross Taggart Trio CD during a lesson this past May. I listened to it and loved your playing, and wanted to meet you and hear you play live.

    In August, my dad took me to Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria to hear the Miles Black Count Basie Octet. There I had the fantastic privilege of hearing you play on the tenor sax. The other players were great, but you were right inside the whole Count Basie feel, swinging away. It was like hearing the original music when you played and soloed. I got to talk with you afterwards, and you invited me to take a lesson with you in Vancouver this fall.

    I was fortunate to make the BCMEA Honour Jazz Ensemble as a tenor sax player this year, and when playing with them at the Cellar in October I met and took a lesson from your good friend Cory Weeds. He told me about your influence on him and how he looks up to you, and I saw a great picture of you two together when you were a few years older than me.

    Mr. Taggart, I am just a young person you met once and likely won’t remember, and in the big picture of life right now I know that what I say can’t matter much. But I just wanted to thank you for your kindness in taking the time to talk with me after your long concert at Hermann’s. I now know you probably weren’t feeling your best (though you never let it show, and one couldn’t tell from your great playing.)

    I also wanted to say thank you for loving jazz and caring about the music, for playing your horn and piano so excellently and with such passion and elegance, for all the wonderful teaching I have heard from so many kids and band teachers that you shared with them, and for creating memorable music for all of us.

    Everyone I talk to speaks of you as a wonderful person. Thank you for helping make the world a better place with your music and your life. I am not religious, but I am sending every hope into the universe that I get to take that lesson with you in Vancouver someday soon.

    Your fellow jazzer,

    Connor Stewart, 15
    Nanaimo, B.C.

  8. Ben Verkerk
    January 11th, 2013 @ 8:37 am

    I never actually met Ross, only had the pleasure of hearing him play sax or piano about a half-dozen times. And I have three of his CDs leading groups (as well as others on which he was a sideman), and they are among my favourite jazz recordings. I love his piano trio CD. His playing on it is so tasteful and heartfelt.

    I know cancer doesn’t care what kind of person you are, but it seems so unfair that it would strike such a talented and beloved person still in the prime of his life, and then end his life so painfully.

    I feel very badly for Sharon, and would like to extend condolences to her and to Ross’s family.

  9. eric metcalfe
    January 11th, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    i have just donated a painting to the vgh cancer
    ward in memory of ross taggart passing.
    i met ross through my son reece back in the mid
    ’80’s and passed on some of my knowledge to him.
    june katz was then overseeing the jazz policy at
    the now defunct alma st cafe in which she let him play with some of the emerging young great
    talent that passed through that premise.
    it was wonderful to see his talent develop over the years…….also his love of another great art form’film noir’. eric metcalfe, r.c.a.

  10. Jacob Skeeles
    January 11th, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

    I first met Ross when i was in grade 8 at the west coast jazz festival. i was playing my first jazz performance at the time as a young highschool kid and he was the adjudicator. i ended up screwing up my whole combo because i soloed for too long and it through off my group but we managed to come back in and save ourselves anyways. during that adjudication, ross explained to me and the combo that messing up is just a part of jazz that happens all the time and that its about how we fix it on the fly that counts because who knows what could happen on the fly. he gave me my first big jazz lesson i ever got but gave it to me in the nicest and most encouraging way possible. that man was the nicest, sweetest most down to earth jazz musician i ever had the privilege of knowing. if it wasn’t for his encouraging words in the beginning of my musical life, i probably would have run for the hills because messing up was terrifying for me then but he made it feel ok to do so. i feel that if it wasn’t for his kind words, i wouldn’t have been encouraged to practice as much as i have, to be as involved with music and jazz as much as i am and i wouldn’t have gone as far as i have. thanks to the practicing i felt inspired to do, i was in BCMEA two yrs in a row, winning best guitarist in the surrey jazz festival as well as in the lionel hampton jazz festival and in the west coast jazz festival. if it wasnt for his kind nature and that lesson he gave me i wouldnt have gone on to VIU and to Berklee College of Music and i wouldnt be going to Capilano this september to finish my degree. i just wish you could be there so i could learn more from you :( my point isn’t to brag here. im just saying that that first stepping stone he helped me get over was the most important in my books and it really encouraged me to practice and work really hard at jazz and hopefully one day i can be just like him. i love you Ross. you helped me more than youll ever know and when people ask me what inspired me to play jazz i can happily say it was you. thank you so much buddy RIP!

  11. june katz
    January 12th, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    When Ross was 16 I had the pleasure of meeting him through Reece Rehm Metcalfe, who urged me to ignore Ross’s ‘YOUNG-NESS” and listen to him play. That started a long professional and deep friendship. We also, shortly after that intro, became unofficially God-Mom and God-Son. He was anxious to move from Victoria to live and learn, and be exposed to all things JAZZ here in Vancouver. He and I and our dear friend, artist, and jazz scholar, Eric Metcalfe starting spending time together when we could, (which was a sporadic constant) cooking, hanging, listening to ‘sides’, etc. I knew he was very interested(and slightly in awe) of Campbell Ryga, Phil Dwyer, Hugh Fraser, so I took him to the Classical Joint to hear and see these young heroes of Ross. One night I also took him to Frank Baker’s to hear Linton Garner and Ken Lister, and asked if my ‘god-son’ could sit in on tenor sax. I told these wonderful colleagues of mine that Ross could really ‘blow’ and an had incredible depth and deep understanding jazz history within him. They said… “sure June”, let’s have him come up. Needless to say, they were impressed by Ross’s playing and deferential, sincere manner. At that time I became a partner at the Alma Street Cafe and ran the music programme for 7 years. I started having a very shy Ross Taggart come sit in with my, oft` times musical guests and, well heralded pals, Ron Johnston, Oliver Gannon, Torben Oxblol, Cam Ryaga, Phil Dwyer, Hugh Fraser, etc.etc.etc. Those introductions and insuing gigs with those great musicians, and, as Ross always told me, “a university education” for him. Sometimes, it would seem, that wee bit of “nepotism” at the right time,in the right place, and for the right person, can propel a talent, such as Ross’s, along the very road he was headed…just a little bit faster. My thanks to Stephen and Bob Huddart, who owned and operated the Alma St. Cafe, who brought me in gave me carte blanche as to begin my music programme, i.e. guests,etc. There was a core of musicians with whom I felt a strong kinship and a great admiration. These very people were always saying to me…”that God-Child” of yours is not only brilliant, but such a gentleman and all around great guy. Keep hiring him.” As if they had to tell me… Happily, he played, and beautifully, on two of my recordings and always offered up help with any of my searches for ‘obscure’ tunes. Now comes the hard time when the missing-ness sets in with all of us who were family, friends, colleagues, students and fans of that wonderful man, who always signed letters and cds, etc. to me with..”love from the God-Child”; with tongue placed firmly in cheek.
    `Nuf said. June Katz

  12. Brian Hilton
    January 15th, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    I’m a former drummer who met June Katz about 15 years ago and subsequently Ross and many other musicians. Ross was not only a brilliant musician – but a complete gentleman as well. Kind of like Cary Grant. He had it all, and June saw that and nurtured it. She also turned me into a writer – much to my surprise. I know first-hand how important it is to have someone who believes in you, and pushes you to excel.

  13. Kate Hammett-Vaughan
    January 23rd, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

    Lovely to see June’s note here. Ross was so loved and admired by so many of us, it’s hard to sort out all the history that we all shared with him. I am glad to see this posting, as I was witness to June’s generosity with young Ross and to their long and loving friendship. It’s a vital link in what will soon become the legend of Ross, and should not be ignored. June nurtured him as a musician and person, introduced him to the scene here, and remains a close friend of Ross’s family. Thanks for ALL you did, June, to help bring that amazing person into our lives.

  14. Will Goede
    February 6th, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

    Being a sax maniac, I was totally plugged into this man’s magic, and then one night I went to The Cellar and he was sitting at the piano, and I thought, “Hey, Ross can play piano too!” Then he burrowed into “I Can’t Get Started” and I said to myself, “How can one guy be the best sax player in town and also the best piano player?” He taught me more in one week about sax than I learned in twenty years. He was a great world-class saxophone genius and a master of the piano, and he taught not only technique but also style and form and love. There will never be another Ross. God bless him!

  15. Alex Biron
    March 3rd, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

    I recommend his album Mysteries and Tall Tales which he made with Bob Murphy.

    Sad I never got to hear him play piano…

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