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.

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