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Accolades & Honors

Chad Taylor is the new William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies

Chad Taylor playing the drums

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Music has named composer, educator and drummer Chad Taylor (pictured, left) the new William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies and artistic director of the Jazz Studies Program. In this role, he will lead the jazz program’s public programming and community outreach efforts, including the annual Jazz Seminar and Concert week; teach courses on jazz performance and scholarship; and work with other faculty to develop long-term visions for the jazz studies undergraduate and graduate programs.

“Chad’s artistic leadership combined with a career of providing support to other musicians from behind the drum set brings the fantastic promise of both innovation and collaboration from our new colleague,” said Associate Professor Aaron J. Johnson, who has served as the interim director of the Jazz Studies Program since 2022.

Cited for his “deftness, imagination and formidable technical skill” by The Wire, Taylor is a composer, performer, educator and scholar who has been a prominent figure in the Chicago, Philadelphia and New York jazz communities. He arrives at Pitt with an international performance career that includes appearances on more than 130 recordings with ensembles led by Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Eric Revis, James Brandon Lewis, Dave Liebman, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts and Ken Vandermark among many others. He is a founding member of the Chicago Underground (with Jeff Parker and Rob Mazurek), and his recent projects include performing with Joshua Abrams as the duo Mind Maintenance.

Taylor holds an MFA in jazz history and research from Rutgers University, Newark and a BFA from New York’s New School of Jazz. He has taught extensively on jazz topics at Rutgers University and Berkeley College in New York.

“I am humbled and honored to continue the legacy of Nathan Davis, Geri Allen and Nicole Mitchell and to collaborate with an amazing team of colleagues,” said Taylor. “I want to thank all of my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and students who have supported me on this incredible journey. This is a unique opportunity for me to share my passion for research and scholarship with my love of performance and give back to the community.”

Taylor will start in the Fall 2024 semester. His arrival will mark the second Dietrich Chair of Jazz Studies and the fourth director in the jazz program’s history. Past directors include Nathan Davis (1969-2013), Geri Allen (2014-2017) and Nicole Mitchell (2019-2022).

The position is being reconceived slightly to allow Taylor to focus more completely on artistic directorship and community outreach, rather than also balancing full oversight of the graduate program. In this role, he will work closely with Aaron J. Johnson.


— Nick France, photography by L. David Hinton