I met Teagan Taylor, the singing pop-jazz trumpeter, a few years ago at a party. Not just any party — it was Larry Zeiger’s pre–New Year’s Eve annual goody. Taylor was in her early teens then; I don’t think she even had a driver’s license. At the time, she fronted an awkward, semi-jazzy combo in which Dylan, her brother, played bass, and her dad, Tim, played guitar. Ms. Taylor handled cornet and sang. I think mom was their manager. Retired from teaching at Point Loma High School, Zeiger’s habit was to break out fresh new talent that caught his ear. And that year, Taylor and her family had the spotlight. I was unimpressed. “Novelty act,” I said. Zeiger was borderline apoplectic. And, as it turns out, I was wrong.
...by the Teagan Taylor Band...after a snack...in the kitchen
Teagan Taylor is 22 now. She still fronts the same group, more or less, but they’ve all gotten much better, and she’s grown into her own voice with a gravity that rivals (and sometimes surpasses) that of Norah Jones. Even better, Taylor’s cornet is not a novelty gig. Her instrumental voicings are intuitive and studied. She knows how to put the right notes in places that complement her vocal lines. Style-wise, I would put her into that same big winsome bag of loneliness that Chet Baker called home during his lifetime.
That night at Zeiger’s, I would have pegged the trio as little more than a chance for Dad Taylor to gig. After all, he was the serious musician in the bunch. Not so much anymore. Surpassed by his children, he now fits into their music, which is a mix of your basic jazz standards straight out of the American Songbook, some pop tunes, and some of Teagan Taylor’s originals. As I see it now, Zeiger was right: Taylor’s one lucky break away from prime time. I wonder what’s holding her back.