Now becoming infamous amongst his classical peers as a lover of jazz and outside-the-norm, creative, eclectic
music, when the Austin Symphony’s principal cellist Joel Becktell in 1996 received a phone call from a producer
looking for an Indian-influenced violinist for session work on hehalf of singer-songwriter David Rice, Will
Taylor was the perfect man for the job. Although, he had never played Indian music, excited by the challenge
and his insatiable desire to try new things, Will was eager to blow them away. So he did his homework and came up with something profoundly inspiring to the evolution of his own original compositions. Will was
flown to England where he recorded 5 or 6 cuts at Peter Gabriel’s studio with David Rice for his 1997 album
Soon after, Will was invited to sit in on a show with an eclectic Indian/Middle-Eastern jamband (of all things!)
called “The Gypsies” (later named “Atash”) where he met tabla player Jason McKenzie. A graduate of North Texas
University’s music department, Jason was also a gifted jazz drummer. This combination intrigued Will tremendously.
Continuing on with his jazz collaborations, in 1998, Taylor invited jazz vocalist Beth Ullman to do a show with his
Jazz Menagerie at the tiny Austin coffeeshop Flipnotics. But this time he wanted to do something different --
something more than just string quartet jazz. The idea of the show was, along with a spin on vocal standards,
was to incorporate eclectic instrumental intermpretations of mainstream classic rock in a standard jazz-band meets
indian/Middle-Eastern jamband -- performing songs by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Eric Claptan and Frank Zappa.
This was also their first show with tabla player and jazz drummer Jason McKenzie. Because it was a different
concept from his usual Jazz Menagerie, they billed themselves (for the very first time) under the name “Strings