Jaki Byard

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Blues for Smoke (1960), 5.5/10
Here's Jaki (1961), 5.5/10
Hi-Fly (1962), 6/10
Freedom Together (1966), 6/10
Sunshine of my Soul (1967), 7/10
Family Man (1978), 5.5/10
To-Them To-Us (1981), 5.5/10

Boston's pianist Jaki Byard (1922), who moved to New York in 1959, was relatively old when he was finally recruited by Eric Dolphy for Outward Bound (april 1960), Here and There (april 1960) and Far Cry (december 1960), the latter containing Byard's eight-minute Mrs Parker of K.C., and by Charles Mingus for The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963). The solo-piano album Blues For Smoke (december 1960) had already proven that Byard was rather unique in the way he mastered the whole spectrum of jazz piano, from stride to swing to bebop to free. The trio with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Roy Haynes of Here's Jaki (march 1961) allowed him even more flexibility The trio remained his favorite format, particularly for original compositions such as Here to Hear on Hi-Fly (january 1962) and the eleven-minute Freedom Together on Freedom Together (january 1966), on which he also played celeste, vibraphone, tenor sax and drums, peaking with Sunshine Of My Soul (october 1967), that featured Elvin Jones on drums, a set of longer pieces each of which sounds like the effortless imitation of a different style (Sunshine, Chandra, and especially the free-form Trendsition Zildjian).

Unfortunately, he started devoting more and more of his recordings to standards. Family Man (may 1978) and the solo-piano To Them-To Us (may 1981) were the notable exceptions to the rule.

Byard died in 1999.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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