Mike Taylor (trombone)
RIP 5th Sept 2021
Mike Taylor -
Mike bought a trombone in 1957 when a student at
Liverpool University and taught himself to play, featuring
in bands in South Yorkshire, where he was born, and later in
Lincolnshire. Returning to Sheffield, he found himself much
in demand by local bands and, following his retirement as a
Chemistry teacher, he joined Dave Brennan's Jubilee Jazz
Band. Mike spent five years with them before his burgeoning
reputation brought an invitation from New Orleans Heat to
fill the vacant trombone chair, where he has earned an
ever-growing number of fans at home and internationally. No
one can hear this remarkably fine trombonist without being
brought immediately to mind of the great Kid Ory. His
open-mindedness and adaptability, allowing him to play the
full range from classical to revivalist, makes him much in
demand and places limitations on his availability. One thing
is certain, however: he always plays for Spirit of New
Orleans when he can.
I'm sorry to report
the death of trombonist Mike Taylor, native of Sheffield.
Mike had suffered a stroke a month or two ago and had been
in hospital since. His partner Annie 'phoned us this morning
with the news that he had died yesterday 5th September.
He had played for some years with New Orleans Heat, and we
both played with The Spirit of New Orleans. Mike was an
open-minded excellent musician, very approachable and
considerate. He would occasionally suggest trombone and bass
duets for several, or many, choruses, which I greatly
appreciated. He will surely be missed by many. I'll try to
send on any further details.
Best wishes to Barbara, yourself and your many readers,
Harmoniously, John Muskett
I heard about the death of Mike Taylor last week, which I
notice has already been mentioned on Jazz North West.
I don't know where to start - It must be over 40 years since
I first saw Mike with a band. I'm sure this was at the
Norfolk Arms, Ringinglow - a well-known jazz venue on the
moors to the west of Sheffield. Even before that my sister
had told me about her Trombone-playing Chemistry teacher
who, apart from the caretaker, was the only man on the staff
of the Sheffield Girls High School!
After that introduction I started seeing Mike all over the
place. He was even busier after his retirement from teaching
in 1994 and seemed to be playing everywhere! I don't think
Mike was ever a nominal band leader but he did drive things
along, providing a lot of musical ideas and always adding
some good humour and relaxed discipline to the proceedings.
Mike was a great help in my early days of playing, we'd
sometimes meet early at the Norfolk and run through a few
tunes together. This stopped when Mike was confident I could
work things out for myself, the sign of a good teacher! I
also remember some great nights doing "Three Tenors" front
line features together with Dave Aspinwall.
Some of the jazz crowd will also know Mike as a historian
and author, writing a number of excellent books about the
Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation and other local
Another little-known fact is that Mike was very good on the
piano, but rarely heard playing it! I think he was
originally from Goldthorpe in the Dearne Valley, the mining
area between Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield, but was
always known as a "Sheffield" musician. To confuse things
even more, latterly Mike lived in one of the south western
suburbs which is actually across the border in Derbyshire!
Chesterfield phone number, Sheffield post code. Stick with
I was pleased to have Mike join me for a feature at my
Buxton Fringe show in 2016. He was always invited but so
busy that was the only one he managed to attend. Before we
started playing that night he gave a short impromptu talk
about our history together which was nice. At the moment I
can't remember the name of Mike's last regular band in
Sheffield. Monday night at the Norfolk Arms, Red Waistcoats
is all I can remember, if it comes back to me I'll let you
Sorry to lose a real Gentleman of Jazz.
I got to know Mike about 20 Years ago, he later joined the
Dave Brennan's Jubilee Jazz band who I already played with.
Dave always announced him at the end of a gig as, " On
trombone Mighty Mike Taylor.
Mike was easy to get on with and a very good trombone
player, I was very pleased when he agreed to join our band
"The Spirit Of New Orleans"
During this time Mike was very busy travelling all over the
country with " New orleans Heat" but he always seemed to
make time to play with us when ever we asked. He soon became
a very popular member of the band and often suggested
numbers or arrangements which became a standard part of our
repertoire. An example being the Beatles song "Norwegian
Mike was easy going, sociable and very popular with our
audiences, he was the ideal band member in regard to
reliability and loyalty we will miss him.
On Wednesday 6th October, following a private cremation, a
Life Celebration for Mike Taylor was held at Hallamshire
Golf Club, Sheffield. Well over 100 persons attended.
Mike’s life was remembered by recollections from (funeral)
Celebrant Faith, Son Nigel, Grandson Max, Former Pupils
Suzanne and Beverley, and Drummer Terry Kennedy. Aspects
covered included family activities, Mike’s teaching career,
his musical career and his love and deep knowledge of
Britain’s canals. (The latter was an aspect I had been
ignorant of, but the related information on Birmingham’s
waterways reminded me that one summer I had, some years ago,
subjected my own family to such an encounter.) The breadth
of Mike’s experience and the care with which he addressed
all aspects were well covered in many, often amusing,
Meryl and I were pleased to talk to Mike’s partner Annie,
who seemed to be bearing up well. They, and friends Pat and
Cliff, had visited us in York just before lock-down.
During the buffet lunch (including Mike’s favourite – apple
pie and custard), about forty jazz musicians, organized by
Terry, played in assorted groups of five or six for about an
hour and a half, before the celebration came to a
conclusion. A fitting tribute to Mike, whom I will remember
with admiration and affection.