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Tommy Flanagan / Jaki Byard: The Magic Of 2

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San Francisco's famed Keystone Korner shuttered its doors in 1983, but it's getting more press today than plenty of clubs that are still serving up jazz. In the past two years alone, a previously unreleased live recording of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard--Pinnacle (Resonance, 2011)--launched Resonance Records' Keystone Korner Live Discoveries series, photographer Kathy Sloane released Keystone Korner: Portrait Of A Jazz Club (IU Press, 2011) to great acclaim, and the club's owner--tireless jazz advocate Todd Barkan--started hosting/curating “Keystone Korner Nights" at New York's Iridium (in January of 2013). Now, more love for this venue and the musicians it hosted comes via ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tommy Flanagan / Jaki Byard: The Magic of 2

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One of San Francisco's most famous jazz venues, Keystone Korner, closed in 1983. It was a favorite venue of the top jazz players of the day, and several landmark live albums by pianists Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, and saxophonists Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Stan Getz, resulted from shows taped inside its hallowed hall.The Magic of 2 showcases the piano talents of Tommy Flanagan (1930-2001) and Jaki Byard (1922-1999), live at the Keystone Korner in 1982, mixing duets with solos from each of the players.Flanagan, the more traditionally straight-ahead of the two, played on dozens of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: A Matter of Black and White

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Curious title for this album. Sure, it's a nice pun on the pianistic adventures included, but with the possible exception of Duke Ellington or Mary Lou Williams, there was hardly another jazz pianist of the mid-20th Century who saw more gray areas in the music's broad landscape than the late Jaki Byard. In his trio sessions for Prestige, his work with Charles Mingus, or in his late-period solo recitals, anything from James P. Johnson's charging stride figures to Earl Hines' unbridled, multi-octave runs to the dissonant colorations of Andrew Hill are likely to be encountered. Here, and everywhere else he ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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

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Pianist Jaki Byard (1922-1999) is the first one you hear on 2007's great vault discovery, the previously unheard Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy, Cornell 1964 (Blue Note). A favorite of Mingus, who famously disliked most piano players, Byard played with a wide range of jazz musicians and was an acclaimed teacher whose students included Fred Hersch, DD Jackson and Jason Moran. And as the music/jazz teacher at the Music Critic Association/Smithsonian jazz fellows seminars/workshops in the early 1970s, his highly eclectic, historical approach impacted a generation of influential jazz critics and writers. But Byard was at ...

NOT FOR SALE

Jaki Byard at the Chicago Jazz Festival - September 6, 1992

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I was introduced to the work of pianist Jaki Byard through his work as a sideman with Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus. Both his eclectic style and sense of humor appealed to me, so I soon found myself snapping up every record and CD in which he took part, even getting an opportunity to do liner notes for the long hidden tapes which made up the Jaki Byard Quartet with Joe Farrell: The Last From Lennie's , issued by Prestige in 2003.

When I learned that Byard was doing a solo set at the 1992 Chicago Jazz Festival, ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Rhapsody Films Double Feature: Elvin Jones and Jaki Byard

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Rhapsody Films Double Feature: Jaki Byard - Anything for Jazz (1980) Elvin Jones - Different Drummer (1979) Rhapsody Films 2004

As part of its ongoing reissue of classic jazz titles on DVD, Bruce Ricker pairs two documentaries - Ed Gray's '79 Elvin Jones film, Different Drummer , with Dan Algrant's '80 piece on pianist Jaki Byard, Anything for Jazz. An interesting pairing, given Jones' influential stature in the jazz world, and Byard's sadly more overlooked contribution. Both documentaries paint compelling portraits, mostly in the artists' own words, with bassist Ron Carter providing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jaki Byard Quartet with Joe Farrell: The Last From Lennie's

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If anyone wanted to record a history of jazz piano, it could have been done by Jaki Byard, an incredibly versatile pianist who could play virtually any style. However, Byard was too cagey to have approached a project of that magnitude, preferring to meld his influences within the space of a single composition. Utilizing a method that at times seemed as if Eubie Blake’s left hard and Cecil Taylor’s right hand were playing in Art Tatum’s style, Byard created a series of recordings that didn’t always click, but were always intriguing and never boring.

Byard has been gone ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard Quartet: The Last From Lennie's

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It's Party Time!

Prestige recorded pianist Jaki Byard's April 15, 1965 quartet gig at a suburban Boston nightclub called Lennie's on the Turnpike. Two LPs were subsequently produced from the session, Live! and Live! Vol. 2. Every track save one was subsequently issued on a single reissue CD entitled Live!. The brand new CD called The Last From Lennie's features the one track not included on the earlier reissue, plus unreleased recordings from the same evening.

Byard's Lennie's quartet features Joe Farrell on saxophones and flute, George Tucker on bass and Alan Dawson on drums. Byard had been Charles Mingus's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: Sunshine of My Soul

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Jaki Byard is one of only a few jazz musicians who can play comfortably in virtually any style. This has made him a valuable sideman for players as diverse as Maynard Ferguson and Charles Mingus, but has rendered his work as a leader as a tad all over the map, lacking any guiding force to tie the disparate elements together. Lacking a sense of focus, his solo work seems like a man trying to fit all his clothes into a carry-on bag. Occasionally though, Byard is able to make everything work throughout an entire album and the results are always ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: Solo/Strings

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Jazz history is rife with piano geniuses: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Cecil Taylor, Herbie Nichols, and so many others. But aside from the monolithic figure of Art Tatum few if any have succeeded in blending virtuosity, imagination and a complete command of the instrument like Jaki Byard did. His senseless murder last year marked the demise of an instrumental intellect virtually unparalleled not just in Jazz, but in modern music as a whole. All that is left now are the memories and recordings he left behind, but fortunately in terms of the latter there is much to choose from. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: Family Man

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Named for his family members, several movements from Jaki Byard’s “Family Suite" relate the deep affection the pianist harbored for his home and family. Byard made his decision early on in his career to work close to home rather than travel. Recorded in 1978, long out of print, but reissued last month for the first time on compact disc, Byard’s Family Man offers a glimpse toward several of the many styles this pianist espoused during his 60-year career as teacher/composer/performer.

Byard wrote the album’s opening tune as a bouncing Major Holley-type swinger. The bassist’s wordless vocals - in unison with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: On the Spot!

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It is without exaggeration to suggest that the late Jaki Byard was probably one of the most complete pianists that jazz has seen or will likely ever see again. For this iconoclast, everything from the stride of James P. Johnson to the thundering cacophony of Cecil Taylor was fair game for further maturation and he managed to develop a style that took in the music's history, combining disparate elements with deceptive ease.

Beginning in 1961, Byard would embark on what would become some of the finest jazz recordings of his career. His eleven Prestige sides, many of which are true ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: On the Spot!

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When Jaki Byard was murdered early in 1999 it was a blow to jazz music felt by many, but one that is softened slightly when one considers the incredible legacy and eclectic body of work the man left behind as an outcome of his nearly seven decades behind the keys. Over the last several years Prestige has finally been getting around to reissuing all of the invaluable sessions Byard cut for the label during the late 1960s. This disc presents one such session and is brimming with the kind of contagious creativity that was Byard’s regular coinage.

The group assembled ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaki Byard: On the Spot!

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Jaki Byard was an encyclopedia unto himself; in a French concert it’s said he went “from James P. Johnson to Cecil Taylor." You hear that in his albums, even in the same song; with Mingus he would take explosions and follow them with classical beauty. On this date there’s more variety than ever: studio and live tracks, a program that covers six decades, an alto sax on two numbers. Thank his resourcefulness, his broad knowledge. And thank the talent that put it all together. It’s a bright spotlight; he takes it with ease.

With some striking exceptions, the feeling is ...



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