Born: November 2, 1970 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Chris Byars was born in New York City on Nov. 2, 1970 into a family of Juilliard-trained musicians. The artistic resources of NYC were made accessible to the youngster, who soon found himself in musical situations with the top talents of the world. Throughout his childhood, he was granted private study with the great teachers in the area, devoting much effort to learning drums, voice, saxophone, musicianship and ballet technique. From age 6 to 14, Chris enjoyed a successful career as an opera singer, performing, touring, and appearing on television with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and New York City Ballet. At age 14 he devoted himself exclusively to the idiom of jazz.
In the next ten years Byars undertook a period of apprenticeship that transformed him from a jazz novice into a fully functioning jazz composer, arranger and multi- instrumentalist. A Bachelor's and Master's Degree were earned from Manhattan School of Music, but perhaps the most impact was gained by 2 years of intensive private study with musicianship guru Helen Jordan.
In 1994 he began a nine-year run of steady engagements at the Greenwich Village “cutting-edge jazz club” Smalls, appearing on average twice weekly with jazz legends Frank Hewitt and Jimmy Lovelace. This decade of late-night gigs saw the birth of two bands: the quintet Across 7 Street (co-led by bassist Ari Roland) and The Chris Byars Octet. Both have recorded with the indie label Smalls Records to great critical acclaim.
As a small group leader, Byars is releasing his first offering, Photos in Black, White and Gray (Smalls Records) on March 13, 2007. Byars is heard on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, performing exclusively original material. The CD release party is at Joe's Pub, March 28th. Byars was selected to represent the U.S. Department of State as a cultural ambassador, performing in the former Soviet Republics of Kazahkstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikstan and Kyrgyztan in April/ May 2007. Upon his return, he will begin presenting his award-winning educational program Basheer's Dream: The Music of Gigi Gryce Returns to the Bronx with Across 7 Street.
Chris Byars lives in the Riverdale section of the Bronx with his very supportive wife Sarah, and wonderful children Anna (5 years old) and John (13 months).
Photos in Black, White and Gray
Tracks: Aquarian Epoch; Milton; Safe At Home; Acoustic Phenomenon; Manhattan Valley; Cliff Diving; Riddle of the Sphinx; A.T..
Personnel: Chris Byars: Alto, Tenor, Soprano Saxophones. Sacha Perry, Piano. Ari Roland, Bass. Andy Watson, Drums.
As a Leader
Chris Byars Octet
Tracks: All or Nothing at All;The Inevitable; Gnid; Manhattan Valley; In Da Funhouse; Blue Gardenia; Night Owls; The Way You Look Tonight; Nancy; Conception; Village Beauty; Let's Kiss and Make Up.
Personnel: Chris Byars: Tenor Saxophone/Arranger. Richie Vitale: Trumpet. Gary Pribek, Alto Saxophone. John Mosca, Trombone. Mark Lopeman, Baritone Saxohpone. Sacha Perry, Piano. Neal Miner, Bass. Andy Watson, Drums.
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New York, NY
Willing to teach:
I charge $90 for first hour, $40 each additional hour. I'll come to you if you're not too far away! I have a Masters of Music degree in Jazz Studies (Manhattan School of Music). For schools of any level, I present an award-winning clinic/concert program called "Basheer's Dream: The Music of Gigi Gryce Returns," and have given solo master classes on the Musical Legacy of Lucky Thompson. As a teaching musician, I've been selected by the US State Department to tour the former Soviet Republics in April/May 2007. I'm working on a educational book, contents are TOP SECRET...well, let's just say it will help you sightread better.