by Charles Walker
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' ...read more
by George Kanzler
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 ...read more
by Ken Dryden
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 ...read more
by David Rickert
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 ...read more
by Russell Moon
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 ...read more
by David Rickert
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 ...read more
by Derek Taylor
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 ...read more