The young piano phenom Taylor Eigsti kicks off the mainstage performance component of 2008 Jazz Port Townsend on Friday, July 25. While young in years (early 20s), he boasts a playing resume that takes one’s breath away. After all, not many of us can say that we opened for David Benoit at the age of 8, or played with Dave Brubeck at 12, or released our first CD at 14.
My favorite part of the interview is Taylor’s own take on the double-edged nature of being labled as a ‘prodigy.’
"At first, being labelled a prodigy—or someone who’s young and can play really well—is something that can get people to pay attention to your music, obviously. Sometimes people take a little extra notice because they’re like, “Hey, what in the world is this?” I’ve also been in lots of incredible performance situations younger than people getting a later start might have been.
But being 20 [in 2004], I’m at the other side of that sword. What I’m experiencing now is that “youth” and prodigy” are really dangerous words when you get older. You get to an age where you feel like saying, ”Like my music or hate it, but listen to the notes I’m playing.” When people call you “good for your age” it’s just a filter: when those people hear my music, it’s like they’re looking at a bearded lady— Taylor the bearded lady! (laughs) They’re in it for the novelty, and not for the actual music itself. So being labelled a prodigy poses an immense difficulty in getting people to take your music seriously.
That’s where I am right now. I’m trying to create my own new statement in jazz—not doing that ”impressing people” kind of thing…"
Taylor opens the show Friday night (with a killer band), followed by Wycliffe Gordon and a New Orleans dance. Purchase tickets and choose seats online.