Notably from Taylorville, Illinois (where clearly he must have been a part of the royal family), Robert Taylor has been an integral part of Pink Martini both on and off the concert stage since the band’s earliest days. He’s done nearly everything possible for this band for over two decades… writing songs such as “Dansez-Vous” and “The Flying Squirrel,” co-producing several of our studio albums with Thomas Lauderdale, creating arrangements and horn charts, and just generally being one of Thomas’s and China’s closest musical confidants and consultants. And his brother Steve, a professor at the University of Illinois, is our primary orchestrator! What a family. Anchoring the horn section for years with our trumpeter Gavin Bondy, Robert’s “day job” in the trombone section of the Oregon Symphony keeps him from touring with us full time, but, rest assured, his fingerprint is solidly etched into the sound of our little orchestra, whether he is on stage with us or not.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Robert toured Europe with the American-Soviet Youth Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, and played with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival under Mstislav Rostropovich. He was principal trombonist with the San Antonio Symphony for five years before getting the gig with the Oregon Symphony in 1996, which, luckily for us, brought him to Portland (where he still lives with his family), and into the Pink Martini orbit.
1. If you could have seen any musician in concert, dead or alive, who you never got to see live, who would it be?
2. What is your favorite Pink Martini song to perform?
“Song of the Black Lizard”
3. What Pink Martini song gets stuck in your head?
Like everyone I think, “Sympathique”
4. If you could have a side gig in any current band, which?
The Oregon Symphony of course!
5. If you had a robot that could do one household chore for you… what would it be?
6. If you could instantly be fluent in any language, which?
7. Who is your favorite movie director?
8. What was the first concert you ever saw?
Chuck Mangione in 1982!
9. If you could have one dish from any restaurant appear instantly anytime, which?
Saag Paneer from Swagat
10. What music would you choose as a soundtrack to your most triumphant moment?
“Ride of the Valkyries”
11. What’s your favorite sweet/dessert?
It’s difficult to resist crème brûlée
12. Who do you wish would play you in Pink Martini: The Movie?
Samuel L. Jackson. Next to Mickey Rourke, who plays Gavin.
13. Pride of Lions, Pod of Whales… what would you call a pack of squirrels?
Beware the Squirrel Squad!
14. Are you on the party bus or sleepy bus?
Party on the party bus, sleep on the sleep bus.
15. If you could safely tour any ancient civilization, which?
I’d love to see what was happening at Göbekli Tepe.
16. What is your favorite non-musical hobby?
I’m getting into running these days.
17. If you were instantly skilled enough to have any one other occupation in the world besides musician, what would you choose?
I’d love to be a scientist working at LIGO.
18. If you had complete creative control, what book would you like to turn into a movie?
Neal Stephenson’s Reamde
19. What is your favorite city in the world?
After Portland? There are so many places I have yet to visit. Athens is incredible.
20. What’s the most fun thing about being in Pink Martini?
The travelling has really been great. And of course everyone in the band.
21. How are you keeping sane and calm during this crisis and these weeks of quarantine?
In my neighborhood there is a “fence of hope” where people have written messages such as “we are all in this together”, and “we can do this”. I’ve been thinking about creating a “sidewalk of despair”; taking my kid’s sidewalk chalk and writing messages like, “ I don’t think we can make it” and “ we are all doomed!” “Every man for himself”, “This is the End!”
I’m not going to do it. I just like thinking about it.