For those who didn’t see it, here’s the obituary for Ross Taggart that appeared in the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper today:
January 16, 2013
TAGGART, Ross Thomas Died surrounded by family and close friends on 9th January 2013 after a brave and gallant struggle with kidney cancer. He was 45. Born in Victoria, BC, Ross showed great interest in music from an early age. At 18, he moved to Vancouver and embarked on a free lance jazz career, eventually becoming a prominent and beloved figure on the North American jazz scene. Ross lived generously and compassionately; he loved with an open heart, always, and appreciated the truly valuable things in life – art, music, drama, good food, the beauty of nature, friends and family. His unique sense of humour meant he carried the gift of laughter wherever he went. Those of us fortunate enough to have known him will miss him more deeply than words can express. His loss will also deeply affect the Vancouver/Vancouver Island jazz community whose steadfast devotion was a comfort to both Ross and his family during these dreadful last three months. In addition, family and friends alike are very grateful to the truly extraordinary Palliative Care Team at Vancouver General Hospital. A service celebrating Ross’s life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday 19th January at Cordova Bay United Church, 813 Claremont Ave. Joy he gave; joy he has found.
Radio shows in Victoria and Vancouver are dedicating their broadcasts this week and next to the memory of saxophonist and pianist Ross Taggart who died of cancer yesterday in Vancouver at age 45.
Shaukat Husain devoted his entire Straight, No Chaser program on Victoria’s CFUV last night to Taggart. In an email sent after the broadcast he wrote, “I’ve just come back from CFUV after doing a two-hour show on dear Ross whom I’ve known since he was 16 years old.” This very personal tribute will be available here in the CFUV archives from January 10-16 if you missed it.
CBC broadcasters Margaret Gallagher and Rick Cluff payed tribute to Taggart this morning on CBC Vancouver’s Early Edition. The show is archived and the tribute begins at the 2:00 hour mark. It includes clips from Campbell Ryga and a wonderful anecdote about Dave Brubeck commenting on Taggart’s playing in which he said “I’m going to have to break his hands. He’s just too good.”
Margaret Gallagher will devote this Saturday’s CBC Hot Air broadcast at 5:05pm to the memory of Taggart.
Ian McDougall Pays Tribute to Ross Taggart (1967-2013) as Remembrances Pour in from across the Country
Trombonist Ian McDougall spoke for hundreds of jazz musicians and thousands of fans on Vancouver Island and across the country this afternoon when he said, “We lost a fantastic man,” referring to the death in Vancouver early this morning of beloved saxophonist and pianist Ross Taggart.
He was speaking on CBC Victoria’s local afternoon radio show All Points West.
Holding back tears, McDougall said Taggart was “one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met in my life,” noting that he was a kind and good man with a wonderful sense of humour he kept even as he was dying of cancer.
“He was one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met in my life.”
McDougall first met Taggart in 1986 when Taggart, about to graduate from Claremont High School in Victoria, came to his house to audition for a big band McDougall was launching at UBC in Vancouver. He recalled Taggart pulling out his tenor sax and blowing a beautiful Coleman Hawkins solo that showed not only his incredible playing skill at a young age but also his deep respect for jazz tradition. “I’ve never forgotten that moment,” said McDougall.
Uncertain if he would get a seat in the band, Taggart then told McDougall he could also play piano just in case he wasn’t good enough on saxophone. McDougall, in fact, was so blown away by his sax playing that he’d already decided to give him a seat. “He was so humble,” said McDougall, adding that he kept that quality throughout his life.
“We lost a fantastic man.”
Taggart went on to play in some of the most influential bands on the west coast, including the Hugh Fraser Quintet, VEJI, and the Ian McDougall Sextet. He studied in New York and Toronto and shared the stage with talents like Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Bud Shank, Phil Woods, Tommy Banks, Rob McConnell, Don Thompson, and Fraser MacPherson.
He 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. He was featured on numerous recordings by other artists as well as at least four of his own as a leader. He was widely regarded as one of the best players in Canada and performed internationally many times.
“A musician we all learned from, a friend we all laughed with.”
The Ottawa Citizen’s Peter Hum reported on his jazz blog today that Taggart got into jazz after hearing an Oscar Peterson recording when he was only 14. He then sold all his rock albums and bought jazz records.
Hum also reported on the many remembrances coming from across the land, including one from Mike Herriott in Toronto that recalled Taggart as “a musician we all learned from, a friend we all laughed with, and one of the most thoughtful people I’ve known.”
CBC music reported saxophone great Campbell Ryga saying he always recognized Taggart’s sound for its “grace, elegance and heart,” as well as his thorough command of “the history of the tenor saxophone.”
CBC’s Hot Air plans a tribute this Saturday at 5:05 (PST) on CBC Radio One and a memorial is planned for later this month in Victoria, Taggart’s hometown. Stay tuned for more info.
I’m re-posting information from Capilano University about a benefit concert held last night that provides an address for donations. I know the entire Island jazz community will be thinking about him and will come to his support. Please send a donation if you can. Here’s the blurb:
Ross Taggart, one of Canada’s finest jazz pianists and saxophonists, and a dear friend to many in the jazz community is in hospital battling renal cancer. A benefit concert featuring Vancouver’s finest jazz players will take place on Monday, November 26 at the NSCU Centre. The fundraiser is SOLD OUT. Donations can still be made, please send to the Vancouver Musicians Association at #100 - 925 West 8thAvenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E4.
Submitted by: NSCU Centre