According to those who knew him best, Tony Taylor, once co-owner of the Bohemian Caverns and for years a staunch supporter of jazz in Washington, loved but one thing in life more than music: people.
There was plenty of both on hand Saturday night at Mr. Y's Lounge as the Washington jazz community turned out in force to pay and play tribute to Taylor, who died last week following a heart attack.
"It's been a harrowing week," said Gail Dixon, who promotes jazz at Mr. Y's. "Our house drummer, Jimmy Hicks, was shot and killed a few days before Tony died, leaving behind a 6-week-old child. We've already held a benefit for his family and we're here to remember both men tonight."
Within an hour the club was packed, with standing room only. Musicians were everywhere, taking turns inching their way up to the bandstand. The music was silenced only when Marie Taylor, Tony's sister, read aloud some of the telegrams of condolence the family received from Mayor Marion Barry, Del. Walter Fauntroy and comedian Bill Cosby, among others.
In recent years, Taylor had founded and directed Lettumplay, a nonprofit organization designed to promote local jazz performances, many of them at hospitals, institutions and senior-citizen center. Bob Wilson, interim artistic director of Lettumplay, told the crowd just what it wanted to hear: "Lettumplay will continue," he said. "It lives in all of us."