Don Byas


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Volume nine in the complete chronological recordings of Carlos Wesley Don Byas presents 21 recordings made for the Vogue label in Paris between July 18, 1952 and December 8, 1953. U.S. jazzheads should be grateful to the producers of the Classics reissue project for making these very European recordings available on compact disc throughout the civilized world, and in North America. Opening with the remainder of a sax-and-vibes quintet session from July 1952, this portion of the chronology quickly moves into less intimate territory with two sessions featuring Byas in front of large Parisian big bands. The songs chosen for use on these dates -- Georges Auric's sunny-simple "Moulin Rouge," for example -- were all drawn from contemporary French pop culture. While these tuneful ditties with arranged backgrounds may not seem as relaxed and spontaneous as the smaller group blowing sessions, the saxophonist sounds completely relaxed and happy to be treated with the respect that was usually granted him in mainland Europe. On November 24 and December 8, 1953, Don Byas resumed making records accompanied by a sympathetic rhythm section, with Martial Solal at the piano and Pierre Michelot handling the string bass. Points of fascination include Jerome Kern's "Remember My Forgotten Man," a Depression-Era social commentary piece originally staged and filmed by Busby Berkeley; an "Unknown Original"; a revision of "Harvard Blues" here titled "Blues for Don Carlos" and a slice of verité bearing the initials "G.D.B.," a reference to the phrase "gueule de bois," which is French vernacular for a beastly hangover.

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