Born 1903 Died !954
Born Arthur Taylor in Butte, Montana where his father Arthur Taylor was a club owner, raised in Indianapolis and around taught himself piano encouraged by his father. By the end of his teens he was proficient enough to play at house rent parties and clubs in the city. In the latter half of the twenties Taylor had moved to Chicago looking for better opportunities, there he worked steadily until in 1929 Vocalion Records recorded four sides by Montana two accompanied by the Jazzo Boys and two solo. Most significant of these recordings were ‘Indiana Avenue Stomp’ and ‘Detroit Rocks’ on these Taylor demonstrated that he was an extremely accomplished boogie pianist, his inventive piano work being of the highest order. Completely disillusioned with the business practices of record companies and the lack of royalties he turned his back on the recording industry.
Montana continued to make a living playing piano, working for a while in Cleveland in the early 30’s, unnoticed by the wider world until in 1946 he was persuaded by some jazz fans to record for the Circle label, a small company specialising in classic jazz and boogie styles. Over two days Taylor recorded a dozen or more sides in Chicago, recording both solo and as an accompanist to Bertha ‘Chippie’ Hill on three sides. He demonstrated that all the old skill was there and that he was actually a moving singer on numbers like ‘I Can’t Sleep’. Unconvinced by this exercise Montana Taylor left the limelight and faded into obscurity again.
Montana Taylor had a relatively brief period in the public eye as a musician, but the fact that he was a superb blues and boogie pianist deserves to be better known.