Last updated Wednesday October 13, 2021 at 13:42:48

Mike Taylor (trombone)
RIP 5th Sept 2021

Mike Taylor - Trombone

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

13/09/21 -

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 waterways.

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 Sheffield!

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 know.

Sorry to lose a real Gentleman of Jazz.
Sam Wood

20/09/21 -

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 Wood"

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.

Dave Pogson

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, anecdotes.

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.


John Muskett


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