A pair of mallets fly high up into the air, twirling at least two times before the hands that will strike them against the golden bars of a vibraphone catches the wooden sticks. What happens next is best described as being “hypnotic” as Jason “Malletman” Taylor plays the instrument he loves, while also placing his audience in a trance, as they witness something they have never seen before...
Taylor grew up in Brooklyn, NY listening to Lionel Hampton’s music. His mother, who was a fan of Hampton’s and would go see him perform at the Apollo Theater, introduced her son to the jazz legend’s work. Taylor started out playing the drums when he was 12 years old. He then went on to play the xylophone before falling in love with the vibraphone, which he describes as being “the most beautiful sounding instrument.” He became dedicated to mastering the “vibes” just like Hampton, who was so impressed during his first meeting with Taylor in 1981, that he took in the young “Malletman” as his protégé and became his mentor. In addition to touring the U.S. and Europe with Hampton and his 18-piece band, Taylor also lived with him and received the kind of personal training and experience that can only be described as “priceless.” It was during that time when Taylor also formed Mallet Records, a record company dedicated to its mission of “Keeping Real Music Alive.”
Taylor flew away from Hampton’s nest in 1985. That was the year he began to heavily promote his first recording, “Once Upon a Mallet” (1984) which caught the attention of quite a few people. In 1986, Taylor released his sophomore recording, “Good Grief/My Destiny” after which, Taylor returned to his true love - performing. Over the years to follow, he developed his unique live show into one that awed audiences and critics alike. As the 1980’s ended, Taylor released the successful “Love Attack” album, which features the singles, “Love Attack” and “Pick Me Up.” “Love Attack (The Remix)” was number 24 on the Let’s Dance! Record Pool Urban Chart in December 2000, placing higher than singles recorded by Outkast, Lil’ Kim, Eminem and Erykah Badu. Taylor is a five-time Grammy ballot-nominee. His nominations include Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for “The Christmas Song” (1998). His most recent CD single, “Live at Mallet’s Place” (2005) features “Once Upon a Mallet,” a lively original composition, and a seductive version of the jazz standard, “Misty.”
Taylor is known for his unique presentation of Jazz, R&B and Swing, creating a signature sound that he calls “Vibrafunk.” He has been in the company of such greats as Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, James Brown, Branford Marsalis, Steve Washington, B.B. King, Albert King, Carmine Appice, Randy Brecker, Teddy Riley, Will Calhoun, and Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. Taylor has opened up for Earth Wind and Fire (2003), Isaac Hayes (2002), Pancho Sanchez (2000), The Manhattans (1996), Paquito D’Rivera (1996), Pieces of a Dream (1996), Diana Reeves (1995), and Maya Angelou (1992).
Taylor teamed up with the Berger Organization to open up “Mallet’s Place,” a jazz club that launched as a tremendous success in December 2001. Those who visited the venue included Taylor’s mentor, the late Lionel Hampton and John Amos (”Good Times”). The club operated until 2003. Taylor also used the venue for special children’s events to generate their interest in jazz and educate them about the music that serves as the foundation and inspiration for the music they enjoy today.
Taylor studied music at Suffolk Community College, Schenectady Community College, and Berklee College of Music.
Taylor became a Yamaha artist and clinician in 1991. He presents music clinics and master classes throughout the United States at schools, colleges, music stores, and churches.
Mike Balter Mallets, an Illinois-based mallet company, honored Taylor with his very own signature mallet in June 2005. In addition to Yamaha and Mike Balter Mallets, Taylor also serves as an endorser for AKG Acoustics, Dream Cymbals, and Reunion Blues Gig Bags & Cases.
Taylor performs with his six-piece “Malletman Band,” and also with his “All-Star Band,” which features fellow percussionists Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums and Tito Puente, Jr. on timbales.
While his roots are in jazz, Taylor has expanded into many other genres. His instrument knows no boundaries. His performances attract people of all ages and cultures. Taylor’s instructional DVD, “The Mallet Code,” teaches vibraphone techniques to beginning and intermediate students.