Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Taylor, Dotti (Dorothy Anita)

Taylor, Dotti (Dorothy Anita), pianist, flautist, composer, vocalist, poet; b. New York City, 5 October 1942. Her father, John Taylor Jr. (born in Chickasaw, Oklahoma, 1905-1972) was a tenor who sang with the Oleanders and the Southernaires, two black quartets that were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Her mother (born Dorothy Veronica Marks in NYC, 1915-1998) was an accomplished violinist as well as a mathematician. Her sister (born Yvonne Jeanne in NYC, 1939-1973) was also a pianist. Dotti lived in Brooklyn, NY for the first 12 years of her life. In April of 1954 her family moved to Queens and she has lived there ever since.

Dotti started the study of music at 3 years of age when she joined her sister in learning to play the piano with Camille Caputo at the Caputo Conservatory of Musical Arts. It was during this time that she made her piano debut (April 23, 1949) in a duo concert with her sister at Carl Fischer Recital Hall (now known as Cami Hall) in NYC. In September 1949 she was accepted to study classical music at the Juilliard School of Music (Preparatory Dept.). Here she also took classes in music theory, harmony and composition while studying piano with Regina Rubinoff (10 yrs.) and Bela Schumiacher (1 Yr.). Dotti remained at Juilliard until 1960 when she left to attend Syracuse University.

While at Syracuse she studied piano with Sidney Sukoenig and George Pappastavrou, was accompanist for the Syracuse University Glee Club, vocalists and instrumentalists and even had a few occasions to play jazz piano. She later transferred to Queens College where she obtained a B.A. in mathematics (1971) and an M.A. in music (1976). In 1971 she started a teaching career as a math teacher for the NYC Board of Education. For most of her life, including the 30 years that she taught math (1971-2001), she has been involved in the world of music. She directed the 6th, 7th and 8th grade choruses while also teaching math in her intermediate school. She directed the children's choir in her church for 12 years. She accompanied the Carr Hill Singers, the Unique Choral Musical Society Singers and was Musical Director for the Theatre of the Living Word in her church. She gives two-piano classical concerts with Helen Rutledge (under the name of the Libran Duo). She was the substitute Conductor/Pianist for the Broadway revue "Black and Blue". Dotti performed in the first Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (1996) and has played in the Many Colors Of a Woman Jazz Concert in Hartford, CT. every year since 1996. She performed in concerts in the NYC area as a piano soloist, accompanied vocalists and instrumentalists.

Dotti had a love for jazz from a very early age and would often create piano arrangements of jazz tunes which she heard on radio or recordings. Her serious study of jazz began in 1982 when she bought her first flute. At first she taught herself how to play this instrument and then later that year decided to take formal lessons with Frank Wess. She studied with him privately for a few years. When Dotti expressed the desire to attend jazz workshops her teacher suggested the Jazz In July program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Jazzmobile program in NYC. She attended Jazz In July for several years where she studied piano with Dr. Billy Taylor, flute with Dr. Yusef Lateef and arranging with Fred Tillis and Jeff Holmes. At Jazzmobile she studied flute with Frank Wess, Doug Harris and Ron Bridgewater and arranging with Frank Foster, John Stubblefield and Jimmy Heath. She later attended classes with Barry Harris where she studied piano, improvisation and voice.

For many years Dotti accompanied one of her church members, Harry Douglas, who was a member of the Deep River Boys (one of the black quartets popular in the 1930s and 40s). In the late 1980s she joined Harry in concerts featuring the music of Duke Ellington. In fact she transcribed and arranged much of the music for these concerts. In 1989 she was asked to form a women's quartet and perform in a concert during Women's History Month and so the Dotti Anita Taylor Quartet was created. She was later asked to enlarge this group to include 3 more instruments- and so a seven-piece women's ensemble called Moment Of Truth was created. The quartet, whose original members were Bertha Hope on piano, Kim Clarke on bass and Cindy Blackman on drums, has had other musicians on bass and drums with the latest being Carline Ray on bass and Paula Hampton on drums. The quartet has been working to this day.

Dotti has written compositions from a very early age. She has written over 100 works in the classical and jazz idioms. Her compositions include songs, works for solo piano, solo instruments with piano, flute or piano duets, two-piano compositions as well as works for larger ensembles. She has many other interests too. She is a poet who won the Editor's Choice Award (2001) and the International Poet of Merit Award (2002) from the International Society of Poets. She is also an amateur photographer with the goal of publishing a book of some of her special photos which include photos of jazz musicians.

Dotti stays very busy. She is presently playing piano with the Tonal Artistes Orchestra and the Ray Abrams Big Band. She is Musical Director of the New York Jazz Flutet whose other members are Chip Shelton (founder), Jan Leder and Elise Wood. She remains active in accompanying instrumentalists, vocalists and choruses composing, writing poetry, taking pictures. She is an active member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, the National Flute Association, the International Association of Jazz Education and is a board member and Treasurer of International Women In Jazz.  She was the Concert Producer for IWJ's First Jazz Festival that was a special event in the JVC Jazz Festival (1999).

She is the proud mother of two children Dana Pierce Gray (b.1962) and Dareisse Paige Gray Jones (b.1963).

Ted Dunbar: Gentle Time Alone (1991); Jason Lindner Big Band: Jazz Underground - Live At Smalls (1998)
Radio and television broadcasts:
Live radio performance in WNYC - "Young Artists Series" (1959); Live radio interview with Maurice Robertson (Hartford, Ct)- 1997;
Taped interview and performance of the Libran Duo (two-piano team) for a cable TV station in Queens;
Taped performance with the Ray Abrams Big Band for a cable TV station in Queens (2002)
Unissued recordings:
1998 an unissued CD by Keisha St. Joan

Mention in Leslie Gourse's book "Madame Jazz"
She is a published poet having a poem in a book called "The Color Of Our Dreams"(2001) and one in a book released in 2003 called "The Best Poems and Poets of 2002".
Jazz award given by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp (presenter Harold Ousley) Dec. 2001

Contact information:

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