Don Byas


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A veteran of the Count Basie and Lionel Hampton bands and a player savvy to the bop innovations of the early '40s, tenor saxophonist Don Byas produced some of the most impressive yet underrated jazz sides during his '40s, '50s, and '60s prime. After a series of top sessions for Savoy and Commodore, Byas left for Europe with Don Redman's band in 1946, never to return, save for the rare trip. Some his first ex-pat sides -- cut while living in Paris -- are heard here on this Classics collection of 1947 material. Featuring fellow Redman alumni Billy Taylor on piano, Tyree Glenn on trombone, and Peanuts Holland on trumpet, not to mention a host of top Parisian players, the 24 tracks feature Byas leading both a variety of combos and his own orchestra. The material is mostly made up of swing standards like "Stormy Weather" and "Body and Soul," but Byas also gives a nod to his bebop leanings with Charlie Parker's "Red Cross" and "Billie's Bounce." A fine disc that's best heard after checking out the tenor great's classic pre-European recordings.

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