The Cranbrook musical community is mourning the passage of one of its central personalities.
Stewart Taylor passed away in his home in Cranbrook on Sunday, Nov. 4, leaving behind a legacy of a life in music.
Stewart Edward Taylor was born in Kimberley, and got his start playing trombone in school — an instrument he became a past master of. After a stint with the Army Reserve Band in Cranbrook and some time at college in Vancouver digging the jazz scene, Taylor spent the next 60 years playing in all the significant jazz oriented combos and community bands in Cranbrook and Kimberley: Wham Go The Ducks, The Sounds of The Forties, the Cranbrook and Kimberley Community Bands, the Symphony of the Kootenays, The Noteables, the Don Davies Quartet, and more — not to mention innumerable pit orchestras in years of local theatre productions.
“Stewart was a wonderful man and a wonderful musician,” said longtime musical colleague Jim Cameron. “I played music with him for 45 years and never heard him hit a wrong note.”
Taylor opened Stewart’s House of Music in Cranbrook, which would exist in five different locations around town over the years (two of which burned down). He supplied pianos to the population, and tuned them as well. His store was a gathering spot for musicians around the region, until he retired from that business in the early 2000s.
Taylor kept up his piano-tuning trade, his prolific performance schedules, and his incomparable musicianship ever afterwards though.
“He was a kind and generous man, always self-effacing and always eager to learn,” Cameron said. “He defined ‘cool’ both on and off the bandstand and I will miss him more than I can possibly say. In my mind he has simply (like the sign he would would hang on the door of his store on a warm summer day) “gone fishin’.”
Steen Jorgensen, and bandmate of Taylor’s in many incarnations, said It was great privilege to be Taylor’s friend and fellow traveller through almost twenty years.
“When great talent is accompanied by true humility and open-hearted friendship by true caring, it is a moment, when lost, that one realizes just how treasured is the person who carried those qualities; such a person was my friend and fellow musician, Stewart Taylor.”
“‘How do you do that?’ I often would ask when he would soar into one of his beautiful solos as his trombone heated to a fast swing piece, his tone and phrasing a brilliant compliment to the chords and melody.
“His humility was evident as he answered, ‘ I just play what’s in my head.’”
As Stew liked to answer when I would ask him what was his favourite musical sound? ‘A Major seventh chord, my friend. A Major seventh chord.’”