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Taylor Made Jazz 30th Anniversary Gala

The internationally known and Buffalo-based band Taylor Made Jazz will celebrate its 30th year of creating music and entertaining audiences world-wide with a black-tie gala at the Buffalo Marriott Niagara Hotel, 1340 Millersport Hwy, Amherst on April 21, 2018. The event will kick off with a private V.I.P. reception at 6:00pm. Doors will open at 7:00pm for general admission.

This evening of continuous music will begin with the original vocalists of Taylor Made Jazz. In 2003, the City of Buffalo declared July 22 as Taylor Made Jazz day in the City of Buffalo – and the band has only continued to grow and impact the community with its unique blend of original jazz and R&B. The far-reaching impact of Taylor Made Jazz can be seen in the biographies of its core vocalists who will be featured at the gala:

  • Joey Diggs: Vocalist and music producer, a 2016 Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee. Diggs’ noted history is as one of the lead singers of UST Topaze, and for his work in Rick James on the Come Get It album and arranging harmonies for the Doo Rags.
  • Sandra Toussaint Crippen: Vocalist who appeared at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, N.Y. during the 90’s, and on City Rhythm TV during the 80’s.
  • Henry Wright, Jr.: Vocalist from Lackawanna, who began singing with Unique Sounds during the 70’s, which became UST Topaze, and worked as a gospel drummer and singer throughout Western New York
  • Annette Batia: Lead vocalist on the hit song “Springtime Love” with the Exoutics, written by Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee Ron Walker.

The show will feature original songs from the albums Agape and The Next Step performed by Taylor Made Jazz musicians Robert Garrett (drummer), Brian Freeman (trumpet, also known as the “jazz” of Taylor Made Jazz), Jerry Livingston (bass), Nelson Thomas (guitar), Michael Crymes (drums), and bandleader Van Taylor (piano/keyboard, 1998 Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee). Hosting the show will be the band’s current vocalists, Melissa Kate and Joyce Wilson-Nixon, and guest hosts David Allen and Eric Martin. A special performance by Buffalo Music Hall of Famers The Exoutics will open the event, featuring Walker, Michael Pennick and Thomas Hall.

Taylor Made Jazz has a long history performing for our brave men and women overseas, along with supporting our veterans at home. The band is responsible for training a generation of musicians who have spent their careers giving back to our active and veteran service members. Taylor Made Jazz has been committed to supporting education and learning opportunities for children, and prioritizes charitable causes and creating fundraising opportunities for local and international charities.

A portion of the proceeds from this 30-year anniversary gala will be donated to the African American Veterans Monument, which will be built at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park with a completion date scheduled for Veterans Day of this year. This cause is perfectly paired to Taylor Made Jazz’s history. It fully supports the first monument of its kind in our country, which has a fund raising goal of $1.5 million.

“This extremely wonderful and unique tribute to all African American veterans from all wars is meaningful,” says bandleader and founder Van Taylor. “Through Taylor Made Jazz’ Music on the Front Lines, we have travelled to places around the world where our military is serving our country. It has been a wonderful experience to use music to connect our active-duty military with their homeland and I am grateful to the musicians who have helped make our band so highly requested through the years.

Taylor continued, “I feel proud to know that with the monument, we will properly acknowledge the unique sacrifices of our African-American service men and women. The African American Veteran’s Monument is going to be a powerful reminder that America is protected not just by one group or another – but by all Americans. After 30 years of performing for our military around the world, helping this monument finding its first home in my hometown of Buffalo, New York is an extremely special honor.”

General Admission tickets are available for $50; V.I.P. tickets are $75 and they can be obtained by calling 716-310-6221 or through

The Taylor Made Jazz 30th Anniversary Gala is presented and supported by: AFM Local 92, African American Veterans Monument Committee, Al Ryer, Re/Max North, Alternative Information Systems, Bob White Insurance Agency, Buffalo Teachers Federation, Evans Bank, John V. Elmore, Key Bank, Praxair, RWMVP, Three 2 Go Music Alliance, Wood Dental and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.

For more information about Taylor Made Jazz or any vocalists or musicians, please contact Van Taylor at (716) 855-1754 or visit

Written by Michael J. Billoni

Michael J. Billoni

A journalist for nearly 50 years who was an award-winning sports reporter for the Buffalo Courier-Express until it closed in 1982. He was the former vice president/general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. Handled the promotions and publicity for Buffalo’s undefeated heavyweight boxer, “Baby Joe” Mesi. Founder and is managing partner of Billoni Associates. He authored and managed “Robert E. Rich—Memoirs of an Innovator,” the biography of the founder of Rich Products Corp; published 'All In," the memoir of businessman Ronald Zoeller and is currently publishing The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, the most comprehensive history of professional baseball in the city. It will be released April 17, 2020.

Mike and is wife Debbie love Western New York and always try to help others and encourage positive thoughts

View All Articles by Michael J. Billoni
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