Jaki Byard

July in Paris

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This live CD from a new French jazz label appeared right around the time of Jaki Byard's sudden death on Feburary 11, 1999, so it may be the final documentation of the late pianist's work. Byard is clearly in great spirits, except for having to shout down a noisy member of the audience during one number.

With bassist Ralph Hamperian and drummer Richard Allen in the first half, Byard's creative medleys blend contrasting works such as Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" with Miles Davis' "So What"; his introspective originals such as "Nostradamus" and the opening medley of "After the Sun Disappears"; and "Xalithen Rose" and his playful rendition of "C'est Si bon" make for a rather diverse first set. Former pupil Ricky Ford joins them on tenor sax with a tasty original blues "Mimi" and sits in for most of a lengthy medley that wraps the CD. This isn't Byard's best CD, but it is a worthy last date by a man who made many memorable recordings.

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