Don Byas

1945

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Bookended by several pleasant yet minor blues and pop vocals by Albina Jones and Ruble Blakey, this Classics Don Byas disc finds the unsung tenor great on the eve of his indefinite stay in Europe. Having cut his teeth in the bands of Lionel Hampton, Andy Kirk, and Count Basie, among others, Byas marked the end of the war with several fine combo recordings spotlighting his boppish swing blowing style. Here is a generous chunk from 1945, featuring a few different lineups and the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Buck Clayton, Errol Garner, Slam Stewart, and Sid Catlett. Byas is in top form throughout, plying his smoky and slightly tart tone on ballads like "Laura," while showing off a lithe brand of swing on an up-tempo "The Sheik of Araby." Not as solid as Classics' 1944-1945 volume, but still a fine selection for Byas completists.

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