All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Jaki Byard

Jaki Byard Jaki Byard

A musician that has spanned the generations of Jazz is Jaki Byard. Jaki Byard was born John Arthur Byard, Jr. on June 15, 1922 in Worcester, Massachusetts. His father was a member of the marching hands at the turn of the 20th century and played the trombone. His mother played the piano for the African Methodist Episcopalian Zion Church (AME). His maternal grandmother played the piano for the silent picture shows (visual movies without sound before “talking movies” were invented). It was on that piano that Jaki began his musical odyssey. When he was 8 years old, he started taking piano lessons from a piano teacher named Grace Johnson. The swing rhythm of the time and the lure of the big bands inspired Jaki throughout most of his career.

At the age of 16, he played his first professional engagement. During WW II, Jaki was drafted into the army, but with luck and circumstance, he was able to join the army along with Earl Bostic, with whom he would later form a musical alliance with.

By the time he was in his late-thirties, Jaki had a recording contract with Prestige records who engaged him in many recording sessions which allowed him the freedom to have his own compositions heard. It was also around this time that he performed with Charles Mingus as part of an ensemble that featured among its players many fabulous musicians: Eric Dolphy, Jack De Johnette, Johnny Coles and Bobby Jones, who toured Europe and made some great sounds and history. During the 1960's, he saw great success, and all of his albums received mostly 3-4 star ratings in DownBeat magazine. In 1966, he won the Down Beat Jazz Poll Award for most promising musician of that year. In 1979, his 21-piece big band, The Apollo Stompers was voted the Best House Band in New York City while playing at Ali's Alley, a club in downtown New York. On his own, Jaki was to win numerous awards and citations for his music and contributions to teaching and dance from many major academic institutions. He always felt “academia” as he put it was very important. A most cherished and proud moment for Jaki was when he was asked by Duke Ellington's son Mercer to sit in for Duke as part of his orchestra while the Duke was ill.

Read more

Tags

Album Review
Not For Sale
Album Review
Read more articles

Photos

Albums

Album A Matter of Black and White by Jaki Byard

A Matter of Black and...

HighNote Records
2011

buy
Album Sunshine of My Soul: Live at the Keystone Korner by Jaki Byard

Sunshine of My Soul:...

HighNote Records
2008

buy
Album The Last From Lennie's by Jaki Byard

The Last From Lennie's

Prestige Records
2004

buy
Album The Last From Lennie's by Jaki Byard

The Last From Lennie's

Prestige Records
2003

buy
Album Sunshine of My Soul by Jaki Byard

Sunshine of My Soul

Fantasy Jazz
2001

buy
 

On the Spot!

Prestige Records
2000

buy

Watch

Similar

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.

MUSICSTACK
Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers
AMAZON
CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more
HD TRACKS
Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads
CD UNIVERSE
Specializing in music, movies and video games
REVERB
Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.