A4D Wiki
Urban Griot
Studio album by Billy Taylor
Released August 28, 2001
Recorded November 13 and December 9, 2000 at Manhattan Center Studios, New York
Genre Jazz
Label Soundpost
Producer Billy Taylor
Album chronology
Urban Griot
(August 28, 2001)

Urban Griot is an album by Billy Taylor, featuring tracks recorded in 2000 and released by Soundpost Records.

Recording and music

Pianist Taylor's trio for this recording contained bassist Chip Jackson and drummer Winard Harper. The ten pieces were written as pedagogical material for the Wharton Center for Performing Arts at Michigan State University. Some have melodies that use fourths; others are based on rhythms that would be familiar to students. "Local Color / Can You Dig It?" uses rhythms similar to those found in hip hop; "Reclamation" is a waltz; and "Gracias Chucho" contains Latin rhythms. One track, "Spoken", is a spoken-word dedication to a dead child.

Taylor said that he regarded his role as an educator to be like that of a griot, explaining the album's title: "I am like an urban griot, bringing a sense of history and continuity to teaching music."

Track listing

All compositions by Billy Taylor.

No. Title Length
1. "Local Color / Can You Dig It?" 4:25
2. "Reclamation" 5:49
3. "Gracias Chucho" 2:54
4. "Etude" 4:06
5. "Conversion" 4:44
6. "Spoken" 1:38
7. "In Loving Memory" 6:13
8. "Like a Heartbeat" 4:16
9. "Invention / Looking for Another Theme" 5:35
10. "Transformation" 8:30
11. "A Duke-ish Blues" 5:52


  • Billy Taylor – piano
  • Chip Jackson – bass
  • Winard Harper – drums