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with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Jason “Malletman” Taylor is a master of the vibraphone. Mallet, as he is known to most of the musicians he’s played with, is the protégé of the incomparable Lionel Hampton. Mallet continues in that tradition, and explores new boundaries with his own music on the new EP It’s a Groove, produced by Eric “E-Bass” Johnson. He brings a combination of funk, R&B and jazz with appearances by George Clinton, Tony Terry, Devone “Da-vine Tuch” Allison and others.

At age 12, Mallet started playing the drums, and was soon introduced to Lionel Hampton’s music. He became dedicated to mastering the vibes just like Hampton on the xylophone, and soon fell in love with the vibraphone. He toured the U.S. and Europe with Hampton and his 18-piece band. Mallet also lived with Hampton—and gained priceless personal training and experience.

Mallet, a Yamaha artist and clinician, presents music clinics and master classes throughout the United States at schools, colleges, music stores and churches. He uses Mike Balter Mallets, Dream Cymbals, and AKG mics and headphones. Mike Balter honored Mallet with his very own signature mallets—that he carries around with him all the time in his Reunion Blues Gig Bags and Cases.

Mallet will be on the west coast for a special in-store appearance at a unique record store in Torrance, CA called P.M. Sounds—this Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 2 PM – 4 PM. Owner Erving Johnson is one of the nicest and most knowledgeable musicologists who specializes in vinyl.

We talked with Mallet about the importance of learning from a master like Lionel Hampton, and continuing that tradition for a new generation.


Why is the Vibraphone so special to you?
To me the vibraphone is the most beautiful-looking and beautiful-sounding instrument in the world—especially when it’s played correctly. It’s the instrument that speaks to me.

How did the album It’s a Groove evolve?
R&B music was placed into my soul in the early 70s. One of my blessings came true where I got signed to George Clinton and Steve Washington’s label TFL. We recorded and mastered two songs, and they ended up being locked in the vault, for legal reasons, back in the early 90s. After that I released Live at Mallet’s Place, under Mallet Records [project MR-008A], back in 2005. I just got lost in the whole world of—how do I continue? I went to my protégé Devone “Da-Vine Tuch” Allison to help get all my recordings out. With all the sad news happening in the world, I felt that after 12 years of no releases, it was time for some good vibes to hit the market.


How did you get this amazing cast of guests on this album?
If you put your best foot forward and stay humble, it can always happen. Let’s face it: I listened to the best. I’ve been around the best. I tried to learn from the best. I’ve performed with the best. So I asked the best, if you support my quest—I will do the rest. (Laughs)

Which track are you so thankful made it onto this recording?
My original entitled “You.” I feel it’s a complete song and I am so happy that my good friend and two-time Soul Train Music Awards vocalist Tony Terry sang the cut for me.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from playing with Lionel Hampton?
To make sure I play the vibraphone well, hit the stage as a complete package—and to be a good entertainer.

Do you consider yourself a songwriter or a composer?
I would say more of a songwriter. I think I do what most songwriters do. Grab onto sad days, happy days and unusual situations in everyday life—then figure out how to place it into sounds.

Who inspired you compose music?
Songs by the greats—like Erroll Garner’s “Misty,” Lionel Hampton’s “Hamp’s Boogie Woogie,” Lionel Richie’s “Still,” Earth Wind & Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone” [written by David Foster, Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin], Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” [co-written with Gerry Goffin], and “Your Song” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Mallet-4 - with Lionel Hampton

What instruments and equipment can you not live without?
I must have my Yamaha YV-3400 and YV-3910 vibes. Yamaha is my voice. It’s a blessing to be a part of the Yamaha family. I do percussion clinics and demonstrations for schools, churches and colleges. I’ve been with them for 26 years. John Wittmann at Yamaha is like a big brother to me, along with Troy Wollwage. And I can’t do much as a mallet player without my Mike Balter Mallets signature mallet collection. I use a Korg T3 workstation keyboard—thanks to my brother-in-law Richie Albert. I am an ambassador of AKG Harman microphones and headphones—the best sound ever. I endorse Dream Cymbals and use their 16’’ energy crash for excitement on stage. Mandatory to all of this—I endorse Reunion Blues stick bags. I carry my mallets seven days a week. (Laughs) Seriously—I have them with me all the time.

Who are the Top 5 Musicians who inspired you to become a Musician?
Lionel Hampton, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire, George Benson, Ohio Players.

Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Lionel (1983) – Lionel Hampton
Breezin’ (1976) – George Benson
Fire (1974) – Ohio Players
Shout! (Shout It Out) (1978) – B.T. Express
Greatest Hits (1966) – The Temptations

Mallet with Devon Allison - Photo credit Keith Major

Mallet with Devon Allison – Photo credit Keith Major

What Performing Rights Organization are you with?
I am a songwriter with BMI. I get paid, and my songs get placed with other great songwriters and publishers.

A “pinch me” moment where you thought, “Wow, this is really happening to me!
I have had a few. More recently, in 2010 I was asked to play at the NJ Hall of Fame Awards. Les Paul’s son Rusty Paul asked me to play vibes in his All-Star Band. It’s on YouTube. I got to play with Ace Frehley (Kiss), Brad Whitford (Aerosmith), Robert Randolph (Family Band) and Rusty Paul. I felt like this day officially made me an entertainer. (Laughs) When I got off stage, actress Susan Sarandon said, “Hey Malletman, not bad.” That was a pinch me moment.

Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
Yes. I was signed with Trebb Records in upstate NY, listening to K-104 in Beacon, NY and they played both my songs “Sunkist Vibes” and “Look.” I was in my living room—alone. I tried to call everyone local, with no results. (Laughs) They were all at work. It was a kind of validation.

Best advice someone has given you.
On a bus in Switzerland, Dizzy Gillespie told me, “Go ahead man, and play with everybody.
It doesn’t have to be just jazz. Look at me, I played on Stevie Wonder’s album.”

Photo credit Keith Major

Photo credit Keith Major

Best advice you’d like to give upcoming musicians.
Someone told me: Be the best you can be. Everything that you’re going through is just preparing you for what you asked for. So I say: persevere—keep doing it. Never give up.

What’s next?
I’m doing promotional tour dates for the new CD, It’s a Groove, including California this weekend—where I’m presenting a Master Class clinic at Murrieta Mesa High School on October 6. It’s great to teach kids. I think it’s important to continue the tradition of passing on this music to a new generation. I will also do a few in-store appearances including Old Town Records in Temecula, CA (Friday, Oct 6 from 5 PM to 6:30 PM0, and another one at a unique record store in Torrance, CA called P.M. Sounds—this Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 2 PM – 4 PM. And then … more tour dates.

Where can your new fans stay updated?
Instagram: jmalletsplace
Facebook: Jason “Malletman” Taylor
Songs on: iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music and

Mallet-5 - album cover

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