Don Byas

1944-1945

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Don Byas was one of the great tenor saxophonists of the 1940s, a Coleman Hawkins-influenced improviser who developed a complex style of his own. His permanent move to Europe in 1946 cut short any chance he had of fame, but Byas recorded many worthy performances during the two years before his departure. On Classics' first Don Byas CD (which contains his first 21 numbers as a leader), Byas matches wits and power with trumpeter Charlie Shavers on two heated sessions that include pianist Clyde Hart and bassist Slam Stewart. He also plays swing with trumpeter Joe Thomas and pianist Johnny Guarnieri in a 1945 quintet and leads a quartet that, on four of its eight numbers, welcomes the great blues guitarist/singer Big Bill Broonzy. Highlights include "Riffin' and Jivin'," "Don's Idea," the two-part "Savoy Jam Party," "1944 Stomp" (which has been adopted by 1990s saxophonist James Carter), "Pennies From Heaven," "Jamboree Jump," and "Just a Dream." This music was originally put out by Savoy, Jamboree, and Hub. Highly recommended.

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