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Jaki Byard Quartet: The Last From Lennie's (2003)

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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 pianist only a few years before, and the Mingus influence is strong throughout the entire album. Every tune swings with the feeling of "Eat That Chicken"; the piano, starting to go out of tune, contributes a honky tonk sound to the festivities. There are no ballads here. Byard's two-fisted piano playing includes many dissonant chords and counter-rhythmic banging on the keyboard.

Five standards are included, all played with much humor at breakneck speed. Byard's "Strolling Along" appears twice, first in a medley with "After You've Gone" and then in another medley with "Tea For Two," "Lover," "Cherokee" (whose melody is never stated), and Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings."

Two songs sound very much like the repertoire of the late sixties band led by another Mingus alumnus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, in his band with Ron Burton and Joe Texdor. "St. Mark's Place Among the Sewers" is an ode to the Five Spot nightclub in Greenwich Village, and the brief "King David" closes out the album. These two tracks swing even more than the album's other tunes.

Both of the remaining songs are Byard compositions. The album opens with "Twelve," a mildly avant-garde up-tempo piece. There are two recordings of "Dolphy," dedicated to Eric Dolphy, with whom Byard also recorded. George Tucker takes nice bass solos on both "Dolphy" renditions.

The pace never slows over the album's 62 minute length. At the conclusion of "King David," I'm exhausted!

Track Listing: 1. Twelve 2. Dolphy #1 3. After You've Gone/Stolling Along 4. St. Mark's Place Among the Sewers 5. Dolphy #2 6. Tea For Two/Lover/Strolling Along/Cherokee/Shiny Stockings 7. King David

Personnel: Jaki Byard (piano) Joe Farrell (saxophones, flute) George Tucker (bass) Alan Dawson (drums)

Record Label: Prestige Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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