Friends rally for Ross Taggart


News of Ross Taggart’s illness has resulted in a mass outpouring of support. According to his friend and fellow horn player Campbell Ryga, the beloved local pianist and saxophonist is battling renal cancer—and happily coping with the flood of well-wishers coming to his bedside in palliative care.

Now there’s a way for the public to help out, too. Ryga and others have organized a benefit show to help defray Taggart’s expenses: the Ian McDougall Sextet, the Hugh Fraser Quintet, the Bill Coon Quartet, Ugetsu, the Jill Townsend Big Band, and pianist Bob Murphy will all convene at Capilano University’s NSCU Centre for the Performing Arts on November 26 for a concert and jam session titled Our Friend Ross.

“I approached him and I said, ‘Of the groups that you play in, why don’t you give me a list of half-a-dozen that you really, really enjoy and that are important to you?’ ” Ryga told the Straight. “So that was the launching point.…Basically, he’s been a founding member of every single one of these groups.”

In a nice touch, the bands will play in a “music minus one” format. “I wasn’t interested in having Ross replaced by anybody,” Ryga explained, “because he’s just not replaceable.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Tickets are available online at the NSCU Centre box office website. Donations can be sent by e-transfer to, or by cheque to the Vancouver Musicians’ Association, Suite 100–925 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., V5Z 1E4.

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