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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Chronological Classics: Don Byas 1952-53

1. Them There Eyes

3. Moulin Rouge

11. Remember My Forgotten Man

12. If I Had You

13. Lover Man

14. I Can't Give You Anything But Love

15. Gdb

16. Time On My Hands

17. Blues For Don Carlos

18. Sweet Lorraine

19. April In Paris

20. Don't Blame Me

x

Track List: 1952

x

Track List: 1951-1952

1. I Know That You Know

2. Blue Lou

3. You're Lucky To Me

4. Night & Day

5. The Man I Love

6. Georgia On My Mind

7. Easy To Love

8. Over The Rainbow

9. Where Or When

10. Tenderly

12. Trop Jeune (Too Young)

13. Vanity

14. Because Of You

15. Chloe

16. And So To Sleep Again

18. Slow Coach

19. Un Amour Pleurait (Little White Cloud That Cried)

20. This Is Always

21. This Is For Sale

22. En Ce Temps-La

x

Track List: Midnight At Minton's

1. Stardust

2. Exactly Like You

3. Uptown

4. Body And Soul

5. I Can't Give You Anything But Love

6. Indiana

x

Track List: Savoy Jam Party

1. Riffin' And Jivin'

2. Free And Easy

3. Worried And Blue

4. Don's Idea

5. Savoy Jam Party

6. 1944 Stomp

7. What Do You Want With My Heart

8. Sweet And Lovely

9. White Rose Kick

10. My Deep Blue Dream

11. Byas'd Opinion

12. Candy

13. How High The Moon

14. Donby

15. Byas A Drink

16. I Don't Know Why

17. Old Folks

18. Cherokee (Alternate Take)

19. September In The Rain

20. Living My Life

21. To Each His Own

22. They Say It's Wonderful

23. Cynthia's In Love

24. September Song

25. St. Louis Blues

x

Track List: A Night In Tunisia

1. I'll Remember April

2. Lover Man (live)

3. Anthropology (live)

4. Lady Bird

5. Yesterdays

6. A Night In Tunisia (live)

x

Track List: Essential Jazz Masters

Disc 1

6. Georgia On My Mind

8. Night And Day

9. Over The Rainbow

12. St. Louis Blues

13. A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody

18. Tenderly

20. Because Of You

23. Them There Eyes

25. Trop Jeune (Too Young)

26. And So To Sleep Again

28. To Each His Own

30. I Don't Know Why

32. En Ce Temps-La

33. Yesterdays

34. Slow Coach

36. September Song

37. They Say It's Wonderful

39. Easy To Love

Disc 2

45. This Is For Sale

46. I Know That You Know

47. Stardust

49. Chloe

54. Vanity

55. The Man I Love

56. Don't Blame Me

59. You Can Depend On Me

60. Cynthia's In Love

64. Un Amour Pleurait (Little White Cloud That Cried)

66. That Old Feeling

67. Old Folks

69. You're Lucky To Me

70. September In The Rain

71. Living My Life

75. This Is Always

78. Where Or When

79. Blue Lou

81. Cherokee (Alternate Take)

Comments

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He found early on that his talent was much more appreciated and paid for in Europe than in the USA. Unfortunatel y a necessity for many Black american Musicians to Leave America to be discovered and appreciated as artist.
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Smoooooth, like butter...
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not everyone was unaware of Mr.byas. I was turned on to his playing when I first took up the tenor in the early 70's. all those old cats had so much soul. obviously... I ' m still listening.
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spensoid
Such a great voice! Had no idea he existed. Incredible ballads.
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dave5962
Whoever it is who is asking Why did he move must be being ironic, either that or very ignorant of the racial history in this country and the fact that African-Amer i c a n s were treated much better in Europe than in their own country.
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My cousin Art Simmons is on piano, he was inducted into the WV Music Hall of Fame.
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Mmmmmm...mm!
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I thank he Might be kin 2 me I'm just getting tone on 2 him
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Lovely piano too! Why did he move? ... Bias, of course . JDS
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reddoorswing i n
yes, tender song. nicely put. what a gifted soul.
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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!
Report as inappropriate
Has to be the saddest song ever written....w h a t a tender heart must have written it....
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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.
Report as inappropriate
Why did he move?
Report as inappropriate
yea man, yeah, swings & keeps the Gruve too! Cazy good.
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judygg
It is always nice to hear his interprtatio n s - I enjoy his music knowledge and would like to hear more of him..
Report as inappropriate
Fiercely calm, present without being too overpowering .
Report as inappropriate
very smooth...... .
Report as inappropriate
Please play something again soon; I JUST MISSED the TRACK WHICH WAS PLAYED THIS AFTERNOON ON "Moanin'" radio.
Report as inappropriate
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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