In celebration of Black History Month Kathy Bryant-Taylor presented the accomplishments of Leroy Taylor, Jr. to the Music Lab students on Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Jefferson Center.
Leroy started his musical career at age five where he starting piano lessons at Memphis State College, later taking instructions on woodwinds and string instruments. His professional career was launched with the Louisville Symphony where he played clarinet for several years. He joined the Jazz group, “The Niteliters” playing bass at local clubs for the Motown Review in Louisville, KY.
Leroy’s recording and touring career got off to a good start with the famous group, “New Birth” with such hits as; “Been Such A Long Time,” “Coming From All Ends,” “I Can Understand It,” (a song given to them by Bobby Womack), “Dream Merchant,” “Wild Flower,” “Time For You To Go,” “It’s Impossible” among many others, all hit makers for “New Birth.”
But success was no stranger to Leroy. In the late ‘70s he was written up in “Playboy Magazine Jazz Poll” with Paul McCarthy and Ron Carter as being one of the best musicians of that year. He has also to his credit five Gold Albums (New Birth) and songwriting credits.
After moving to Roanoke Leroy played with The William Penn Trio for many years while helping others with their music endeavors. He recorded music with George Alleyne (Gigi), the CD entitled, “Changes” which features great lyric and musical writing from both Leroy and Gigi. Leroy also produced several CDs for international African artist Obuobi Ashong and Djomo . Before his death he was able to compose and write his own original music, several of which have been recorded at Flat Five Studios in Salem, VA with such great local musicians like, Elmo Coles, Dave Ferguson, Vladimir Espinosa, Brian and Melissa Mesko along with several other hardworking musicians. This being the first song recorded of Leroy’s original music. The song has a Jazz and Latin combination to dance by entitled, “Rudee, Let’s.”
The famous bass line, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” by The Temptations is the famous bass line of Leroy Taylor played in the Martin Lawrence movie,“Big Mama’s House” and in the movie with Taraji P. Henson in 2018, “Proud Mary.” This famous line has a way of popping up in movies, TV shows and at events all the time.
It is the hope of T-Group Music (Leroy Taylor’s company) to continue production Leroy’s original music for all to hear and to encourage other’s to pursue their musical talents and dreams.