Don Byas

1946

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This fourth volume in the complete recordings of tenor saxophonist Don Byas opens with 13 sides recorded for the Savoy label in May of 1946. On the opening session, three gorgeous ballads are chased with a blistering version of Ray Noble's "Cherokee" and a mellow stroll through "September in the Rain." About three months later the saxophonist resumed recording for Savoy, now backed by a tougher rhythm section in drummer Max Roach, bassist Leonard Gaskin, and pianist Sanford Gold. These deservedly famous sides represent Byas at the very peak of his early maturity. A rare parcel of four recordings originally issued on the Gotham label finds Byas accompanied by a trio including pianist Beryl Booker. A rather ominous reading of the notoriously suicidal "Gloomy Sunday" is colored so darkly as to suggest the subterranean. By December of 1946 Byas was in Europe making records for the Swing label with a group of musicians from Don Redman's entourage. "Working Eyes," which came out under trombonist Tyree Glenn's name, was written by Glenn but popularized by Duke Ellington under the titles "Sultry Serenade" and "How Could You Do That to Me?" "Peanut Butter Blues," sung in the manner of Roy Eldridge by trumpeter Peanuts Holland, was issued under his name, while the two remaining tracks -- a lush ballad and the feisty "Mohawk Special" -- appeared under the heading of Don Byas & His Orchestra.

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