Jun 15, 2022
June 15th is the 100th anniversary of the noted pianist Jaki Byard, and Podcast 913 celebrates his diverse musical talents with an hour plus of tunes in which Jaki is leader or sideman.
Byard played a number of instruments, but is best known as a pianist. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, after spending much of the 1950's in the Boston club scene, he moved to New York and immediately hit it off with Charles Mingus. Byard worked with a wide variety of artists, from then on, from early days with Maynard Ferguson through his time with cutting edge artists like Mingus, Eric Dolphy, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He could play New Orleans gutbucket blues as fluently as free jazz, solo piano as well as larger ensembles, and was a key member of bands for Booker Ervin and Sam Rivers.
His solo work on Prestige Records paired him with top sidemen, and his recordings with Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw, Paul Chambers and Richard Davis on bass; Billy Higgins, Roy Haynes and Alan Dawson on drums and George Benson on guitar are uniformly outstanding.
Byard was a charter faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music, helping to establish its jazz studies program, initially named 'Afro-American Music'. He stayed there for more than 15 years, becoming highly influential as a teacher and mentor. He died in a still-unsolved homicide in 1999.
Musical selections for Podcast 913 include:
Jaki Byard - "D.D.I.J."
Booker Ervin - "Groovin' High"
Jaki Byard - "Blues for Smoke"
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - "Roots"
Maynard Ferguson - "Mangos"
Jaki Byard - "Ode to Prez"
Charles Mingus with Eric Dolphy - "Orange was the Color of Her Dress, the Silk Blue"
Jaki Byard - "Spanish Tinge"
Eric Dolphy with Booker Ervin - "Far Cry"
Sam Rivers - "Downstairs Blues Upstairs (Alt. Take 1)"
Jaki Byard - "Medley: I Know a Place/Let the Good Times Roll"