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Don Byas

One of the greatest of all tenor players, Don Byas' decision to move permanently to Europe in 1946 resulted in him being vastly underrated in jazz history books. His knowledge of chords rivalled Coleman Hawkins, and, due to their similarity in tones, Byas can be considered an extension of the elder tenor. He played with many top swing bands, including those of Lionel Hampton (1935), Buck Clayton (1936), Don Redman, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk (1939-1940), and most importantly Count Basie (1941-1943). An advanced swing stylist, Byas' playing looked toward bop. He jammed at Minton's Playhouse in the early '40s, appeared on 52nd Street with Dizzy Gillespie, and performed a pair of stunning duets with bassist Slam Stewart at a 1944 Town Hall concert. After recording extensively during 1945-1946 (often as a leader), Byas went to Europe with Don Redman's band, and (with the exception of a 1970 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival) never came back to the U.S. He lived in France, the Netherlands, and Denmark; often appeared at festivals; and worked steadily. Whenever American players were touring, they would ask for Byas, who had opportunities to perform with Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz at the Philharmonic (including a recorded tenor battle with Hawkins and Stan Getz), Art Blakey, and (on a 1968 recording) Ben Webster. Byas also recorded often in the 1950s, but was largely forgotten in the U.S. by the time of his death. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

My cousin Art Simmons is on piano, he was inducted into the WV Music Hall of Fame.
Mmmmmm...mm!
I thank he Might be kin 2 me I'm just getting tone on 2 him
Lovely piano too! Why did he move? ... Bias, of course . JDS
reddoorswing i n
yes, tender song. nicely put. what a gifted soul.
jrcobetto
Don Byas's tenor playing can be heard, like the bio states, on early 40's (specificall y 1941) recordings at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem. He jammed with many great cats during those sessions, with jazzers such as: Diz, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, etc. Some great, GREAT jam sessions. It was really a plus (for history's sake) that Jerry Newman had his tape recorder at those sessions!
Has to be the saddest song ever written....w h a t a tender heart must have written it....
hobo3121
for those of you who want to hear more of him, I hate to plug a company but napster and the other music services are a great place to go. For the subscription fee you can download all his stuff they have. I am finding about a lot of these guys like that. I could never have afforded all the music i have heard. Also, check out AOL.com the select AOL radio, they have stations that operate similar to pandora.
Why did he move?
yea man, yeah, swings & keeps the Gruve too! Cazy good.
judygg
It is always nice to hear his interprtatio n s - I enjoy his music knowledge and would like to hear more of him..
Fiercely calm, present without being too overpowering .
very smooth...... .
Please play something again soon; I JUST MISSED the TRACK WHICH WAS PLAYED THIS AFTERNOON ON "Moanin'" radio.
As stated in his bio, Byas was largely forgotten here in the US. I actually hadn't heard of him until a song of his came up here, but I could easily become a really big fan.

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