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Hosea Taylor Jr, beloved public musician, is the namesake of Jimmie Highsmith’s new community band

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Jimmie Highsmith Jr.
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Photo provided by Jimmie Highsmith Jr.
Grammy nominated muscian Jimmie Highsmith Jr.

Before his death in 2016, saxophonist Hosea Taylor Jr. was a beloved and familiar sight at Rochester’s Public Market. Now local jazz musician Jimmie Highsmith Jr. is starting a community band in his honor.

Starting next month, Highsmith will serve as co-director of the Hosea Taylor Jr. Community Band. Anyone living in Rochester can join the band, which will not charge membership dues.

Highsmith met Taylor as a teenager back in the 1980s. He says the two had a lot in common despite a significant age difference.

“He was old enough to be my father, but still, we had commonality both being black men, both martial artists and musicians,'' Highsmith says.

Through the decades, Taylor was a mentor to Highsmith and many others in the community.

“Hosea was a champion of the community,”' Highsmith says. “Over 30 years I watched Hosea give countless kid instruments and free music lessons.”

To honor Taylor’s spirit of generosity, Highsmith says the band is free to anyone living in the city, and instruments will be provided. Even transportation is covered, thanks to First Student bus company. Rehearsals will be held at East High every other Saturday beginning June 25.

Despite Taylor's contributions, Highsmith says there hasn’t been much done to recognize him. His hope is to provide the same sense of belonging that Taylor gave him to adults and children who participate in the program.

“All they got to do was come there with an attitude. And be a part of it. That cost them time,” Highsmith says.

The band’s creation was made possible through a partnership with Eastman School of Music, the city of Rochester, ROCmusic, East High School and Rochester City School District, with additional funding provided by Judy and Bill Rose.

Musicians ages 8 and older are encouraged to register on the Eastman School of Music Website.