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Don Byas (1912-1972)
Don Byas plays Perdido by Juan Tizol in 1958
Teddy Buckner, Claude Gousset, Michel de Villers, Arvell Shaw, Sammy Price and J.C.
LIVE in the Festival de Cannes (1958).
Despite its unquestionable historical significance, Don Byas (October 21, 1912, Muskogee, Oklahoma, United States – August 24, 1972, Amsterdam, the Netherlands), is not a man that occupy large spaces in the encyclopedia of jazz.
His voluntary exile to Europe where he spent a large part of his life and his musical career, and also that pigeonholing the jazz classic that some on, was the reason that you will recognize their undoubted merits in the extensive history of the saxophonist in jazz.
This student of the great Coleman Hawkins, but sufficiently creative to decorate her music with touches of Charlie Parker, had a refined technique very close to the best musicians of the bebop.
Born to a Spanish mother experienced their first sensations in jazz as a member of the of Bennie Motten and Walter Page, two names linked in different ways to Count Basie, in whose orchestra, Don Byas would reach the degree of soloist far in advance.
In 1930, he founded his first group, “Don Carlos And his Collegian Ramblers” active until 1933 when the saxophonist moved to California. There was a step ephemeral but productive in the big band of Lionel Hampton (1935), in the Eddie Barefield and the Buck Clayton (1936). He moved to New York and in a couple of years ago, he was filling in for the great Lester Young, in the orchestra of Count Basie.
With Basie was two years old and a little tired of the big orchestras, gave a radical turn to his artistic career and set out to participate in the frenetic jazz activity taking place, that developed in the 52nd street of Harlem.
The clubs of 52nd street saw passing through its stage this magnificent saxophonist tenor, and Don Byas, had the honor of participating in the first session recording of the bebop, the February 16, 1944. He recorded a version, until today, never surpassed the immortal theme of David Raksin: “Laura”.
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In 1946, he sails with the orchestra of Don Redman, heading to Europe, the first tour that they performed a jazz orchestra to the old continent after World War II.
Fixed his residence in Paris for the rest of his days, and from the old continent participated in numerous musical projects when someone from the U.S. went to Paris. Encouraged the musical creativity of the pianist Tete Montoliu, with whom he recorded a magnificent album with the master, Ben Webster. Don Byas also recorded in Barcelona with musicians and local bands, and when the cancer stalked, he died in Amsterdam on the 24th of August 1972.
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