British Columbia

Safe Travels: B.C. pianist honours late music partner Ross Taggart

B.C. pianist Sharon Minemoto is on tour playing music from her latest album Safe Travels, a tribute to musician Ross Taggart.

The Sharon Minemoto Quintet plays in Vancouver on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Mar. 2

B.C. pianist Sharon Minemoto is touring music from her latest album Safe Travels. (Sharon Minemoto)

In Canada's music scene, there are few pianists who play as sensitively or thoughtfully as B.C.'s Sharon Minemoto.

Minemoto, a music teacher at Vancouver Community College, is currently on a tour through Canada, playing music from her latest album, Safe Travels.

She wrote the album to honour the memory of her late music partner and one-time husband, Ross Taggart, who died after a battle with cancer.

Minemoto first met Taggart when he was her piano teacher at the beginning of her musical career.

"Ross was a very kind teacher, very supportive," said Minemoto.

Later on in her career, Minemoto formed the Sharon Minemoto Quintet, which Taggart played in. Together, they collaborated on numerous musical works.

Taggart was a beloved member of the B.C. jazz community and a founding member of many jazz bands currently performing in the province.

He was known for his swinging saxophone and piano music and the vast knowledge he had of jazz history. His famous Selmer Mark VI saxophone was gifted to Vancouver musician Chris Startup, 55, shortly before Taggart died.

Startup was was going to play a series of concerts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra using the instrument, but it mysteriously went missing during a rehearsal at the Orpheum Theatre on Granville Street earlier this year.

Ross Taggart's famous Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone is currently missing. (Steve Mynett)

The Sharon Minemoto Quintet recorded Safe Travels in the aftermath of Taggart's death, and the album is full of reflection, humour and hope.

Minemoto has been playing music with the band's drummer, Bernie Arai, since they were in high school together.

Safe Travels' title track was written shortly after Taggart died and was meant as a joyful pondering of what happens to someone's soul after that person dies.

"I started thinking more about the journey the body would take from the time it passed to whatever comes next," said Minemoto.

" ... Taking you on a harmonic exploration of what happens once you're out there and it's over for your time on earth."

The Sharon Minemoto Quintet plays the Shadbolt Centre on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and Frankie's on Friday, Mar. 2.

With files from Hot Air