Late

Don Byas

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What, no thread here devoted to Byas? What recordings of Byas do you most return to? How do you hear Byas in comparison to Bean?

Edited by Late

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While there is definitely a Hawk influence in Byas's playing, Bird also had an impact. My favorite recording of Byas is the live appearance he made in Germany in January 1963 where he appeared with Idrees Sulieman and Bud Powell, documented on the Impulse release, AMERICANS IN EUROPE. His playing on "All the Things You Are" is so fantastic that with all the versions I own of this warhorse, this particular one is my all time favorite. Intensely swinging. On that CD, Byas is also featured on the ballad, "I Remember Clifford". If you don't already own this out of print CD, do pick it up as I often see it in various 2nd hand CD shops in the jazz anthology sections.

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Don Byas is hugely important to the evolution of jazz tenor. "Convetional wisdom" has it that his early expatriation led to an underestimation of both his abilities and his contribution.

My favorite single recording of his is the "Stardust" done at Minton's, found on the Esoteric side, the one w/Charlie Christian (but not on that cut). Perfect, that's what it is. Absolutely perfect.

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I've always liked the Black Lion stuff.

I first heard him on the Smithsonian Collection; that version of I Got Rhythm with Slam Stewart smokes.

Was there more released from that concert? I thought there was at least one more tune- Indiana maybe?

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The album he did with Bud strangely titled A TRIBUTE TO CANNONBALL (not actually a tribute, but Cannonball apparently was the producer) is very good. Excellent straight ahead playing.

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And here is the is the flip side to the original LP cover:

tribute.jpg

Edited by MartyJazz

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There's two very nice Jazz in Paris discs with Byas, and there also was a nice Original Vogue Masters release of his, featuring Bery Booker and M-L Williams' trios. The "Tribute to Cannonball" is a nice one, too! Haven't heard the Black Lion disc mentioned.

I love his sound.

ubu

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The TRIBUTE TO CANNONBALL is the one I spin the most often, but I love the Savoy sides too.

Always had the impression he tends to get lost between the first generation tenors (Hawk, Prez, Ben, Chu) and the bebop and later guys (Dex, Wardell, Sonny, Trane, but maybe that's just the perspective I gre up with.

How much was he respected in the US, with his long stay in Europe? Did he get overlooked like Kenny Clarke, e.g.?

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Yes. The Savoys. There should be a more complete reissue by the label. In the meantime, we have this one to enjoy:

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Despite the rareness of some of the sidemen, there´s a lot of wonderful music included here:

B00006AG9X.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

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What, no thread here devoted to Byas? What recordings of Byas do you most return to? How do you hear Byas in comparison to Bean?

Good idea. I intitiated a thread on Don Byas on the old BNBB Board!

A recommended unheralded session is the 'Don Byas Quartet Featuring Sir Charles Thompson' which was released by Storyville a few years ago!

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The TRIBUTE TO CANNONBALL is the one I spin the most often, but I love the Savoy sides too.

Always had the impression he tends to get lost between the first generation tenors (Hawk, Prez, Ben, Chu) and the bebop and later guys (Dex, Wardell, Sonny, Trane, but maybe that's just the perspective I gre up with.

How much was he respected in the US, with his long stay in Europe? Did he get overlooked like Kenny Clarke, e.g.?

Back in 1970 when he made his first visit back to the U.S. after spending 24 years in Europe, I was fortunate to catch him at the Village Vanguard. Rahsaan Roland Kirk sat in with him one set! (take that, Bright Moments! :D )

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Always had the impression he tends to get lost between the first generation tenors (Hawk, Prez, Ben, Chu) and the bebop and later guys (Dex, Wardell, Sonny, Trane), but maybe that's just the perspective I grew up with.

I've always had this impression too. I imagine, however, that among musicians he was relatively better known, if not very well known (and respected). I've always found it interesting that Hawkins would hire Byas into his band as a sort of "second" tenor. He must have liked what he heard. Byas's contributions to Gillespie's band also seem to strike a curious — and attractive — stance between bop and earlier styles.

Byas sounds more "liquid" to me than Hawkins, in the sense of how he strings eighth notes together. Whereas I more commonly reach for Hawkins recordings off the shelf, Byas still has a special place in my listening.

Any other descriptions/comparisons of how you hear Byas in contrast to Hawkins? (Or Byas in contrast to Chu Berry?)

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Happy Valentine's Day M. Byas!

I really dig listening the most to the quartet with Mary Lou, the two JIP releases and the Cannonball produced Columbia. . . . BUT I like all the stuff I've heard!

Especially interesting is how he was featured with the Coleman Hawkins Orchestra and how much Hawk dug his playing and having him there!

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I've often wondered why Byas is so underrecognized. Maybe he just got lost among the Redwoods; the Hawks, the Websters, the Youngs etc. I'm not sure how much his early European egress actually contributed to this. There have been others who did the same thing but without taking the hit Byas took if, indeed, this was a contributing factor to the recognition problem.

I know Byas accommodated the bop idiom perhaps better than many of his contemporaries. I suppose that this kind of "fit" problem may also have, albeit in a small way, affected the perception of his place in the jazz pantheon.

I've always likened Byas to Hank Mobley, who has been so famously and appropriately characterized as the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone." No one can argue the talent of either or what they brought to the table, but there seem to be people who toil in the trenches just like their more famous brethern, but who never seem to rise above that level. I suppose this could be attributable to their own personalities...certainly neither had the kind of magnetism, flamboyance and larger than life personnae of a Hawkins or a Webster or, in Mobley's case, of a Rollins or a Coltrane. Some people, and I don't say this derogatorily, are just destined to make their music from the second chair.

Up over and out.

Edited by Dave James

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I only have one Byas disc (LAURA, from the "Jazz In Paris" series), but it was a great introduction. I like the way he does that glissando (I think that's the term) at the beginning of a number of the ballads; very interesting technique. Marvellous sound too.

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With all the comparison discussion of Byas and Hawk, the album Byas did with Ben Webster circa '69-'70 is definitely of interest. /This may be sacrilege to some but to my ears, Byas has the better of the day. Terrific version of "Caravan" wherein you can really hear the great contrast between the two styles. (I have a Prestige LP of this session, however it was originally issued on MPS - I have no idea how readily available the CD is).

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I've always likened Byas to Hank Mobley, who has been so famously and appropriately characterized as the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone." No one can argue the talent of either or what they brought to the table, but there seem to be people who toil in the trenches just like their more famous brethern, but who never seem to rise above that level. I suppose this could be attributable to their own personalities ... certainly neither had the kind of magnetism, flamboyance and larger than life personnae of a Hawkins or a Webster or, in Mobley's case, of a Rollins or a Coltrane. Some people, and I don't say this derogatorily, are just destined to make their music from the second chair.

While I happen to spin Byas a lot more than I do Mobley, I think this is a great observation. Something intriguing about that "second chair."

Anyone ever notice how Byas plays the tenor almost like a clarinet? Not the sound, but the way he puts the mouthpiece in his mouth. Giuffre is an even more extreme version of this (— I love his tenor playing too, but, my, he did look odd playing the thing).

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You gotta remember that for a while there, when Dex was still playing like a Prez clone, before the Brothers came to the fore, and before James Moody & Sonny Rollins started playing Bird on tenor, Byas WAS bebop tenor. Once all that other stuff happened, his seemed to have become the road less travelled. Then he expatriated, ahead of the curve in that regard, really. And that was that. Every now and then the odd recording would pop up in America, but never a full album (not that I know of, anyway). He was a man forgotten, with a style seemingly no longer relevant.

But the influnce lingered on. You hear, say, Benny Golson, and you hear LOTS of Byas. You here any number of so-called "swing-to-bop" tenor players, you hear LOTS of Byas. Truthfully, you listen to some of Hawk's more "aggressive" things, and I think you're hearing a response to the technical/intellectual challenges laid down by Byas (and there's a 50s JATP in Europe thing w/Getz, Byas, & Hawk all together that seems to bear this out, at least to my ears). The public might have stopped listening, but a lot of tenor players didn't.

Sorry, but I don't buy the "second chair" bit. Don Byas was a MONSTER.

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Some fine, fine Byas, supported by the very tasteful Sir Charles Thompson, on this disc:

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Jim, is that version of "Stardust" you mention the one that appears here?

d450099p6d0.jpg

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Sorry, but I don't buy the "second chair" bit. Don Byas was a MONSTER.

I actually think your comments fit with Dave's. I'm hearing Dave's reference to the "second chair" more in regard to notoriety and public recollection than musical achievement.

Don Byas — the Nikolas Tesla of "swing-to-bop" tenor?

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Jim, is that version of "Stardust" you mention the one that appears here?

d450099p6d0.jpg

No, but he plays a variant of it. That one also has a SUBLIME vocal by Helen humes on the same tune, so it's a "must have" as well.

The one I'm taling about is to be found here:

B00004SUFN.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Byas, like many players, seems to have had a bit of a "routine" on the tune, with certain key points of the solo built in. But not exactly, as you can hear by comparing the two versions. More like "signposts" along the way, if you know what I mean.

But the one on the Esoteric/OJC is perfect. Absolutely freakin' PERFECT. It's the sound of a man who knows both the tune and his horn inside out performing with total command of each. Pretty amazing stuff.

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Just found the Storyville disc "The Continental Sessions, Vol. 2". Lots of Hawk & Byas there, under the leadership of Cozy Cole.

ubu

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Sorry, but I don't buy the "second chair" bit. Don Byas was a MONSTER.

I actually think your comments fit with Dave's. I'm hearing Dave's reference to the "second chair" more in regard to notoriety and public recollection than musical achievement.

Well, ok. but from all accounts, Byas's was a rather, uh, "confrontational" personality. If he'd have stayed in America, he might well have had the "crazy" reputation of a Mingus. If he didn't get killed first...

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Jim, is that version of "Stardust" you mention the one that appears here?

d450099p6d0.jpg

No, but he plays a variant of it. That one also has a SUBLIME vocal by Helen humes on the same tune, so it's a "must have" as well.

The one I'm taling about is to be found here:

B00004SUFN.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Byas, like many players, seems to have had a bit of a "routine" on the tune, with certain key points of the solo built in. But not exactly, as you can hear by comparing the two versions. More like "signposts" along the way, if you know what I mean.

But the one on the Esoteric/OJC is perfect. Absolutely freakin' PERFECT. It's the sound of a man who knows both the tune and his horn inside out performing with total command of each. Pretty amazing stuff.

Right on. I'll be A/Bing these later today...

:g

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Well, ok - it's the opening solo of the first song on Side Two.

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