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Don Byas

Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor

Born: October 21, 1912 | Died: August, 1972    

Don Byas

Don Byas was one of the most respected and recorded tenor players of the 1940’s. In that fruitful period he had few peers in the the area of prolific productivity. Byas was a masterful swing player with his own style, an advanced sense of harmony, and a confidence and adventurousness that found him hanging around the beboppers and asking to play. He held his own and did so while insistently remaining himself: he never picked up the rhythmic phrases, the lightning triplets, which are indigenous to bop. Yet Charlie Parker said of him that Byas was playing everything there was to play.

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1912, he played alto as a teenager, subbing in territorial bands like Bennie Moten's and Walter Page's Blue Devils. As a student at Langston College, he led his own band, Don Byas and the Collegiate Ramblers. Between 1933, when he switched to tenor, and 1941, he worked with a variety of bands, first in California and then New York--among them: Buck Clayton, Lionel Hampton, Eddie Barefield, Eddie Mallory, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk and Redman. In January '41, he became Lester Young's successor in the Count Basie band and quickly established his abilities, cementing his reputation....
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  • Laura

    Gitanes
    2009
  • Stardust

    Nonesuch
    2006
  • 1951-1952

    Nonesuch
    2003
  • Don Byas: Complete American Small Group Recordings

    Definitive Records
    2003
  • 1947-1951

    Nonesuch
    2002
  • En Ce Temps-Là

    Nonesuch
    2002
  • A Night In Tunesia

    Nonesuch
    2002
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