DON BYAS
         Tenor Giant

         Recording Date:
             August 30, 1945 tk 1-4
             September 6, 1945 tk 5-8
             November 1, 1945 tk 9-12

             Don Byas            TS

             Slam Stewart      B
             Erroll Garner P  1-4,9-12
             Harold West  D  1-4,9-12
            Johnny Guarnieri P  5-8
            J.C. Heard           D  5-8


Nobody played better tenor sax in the mid-1940s than Don Byas. Byas' running of chord changes and big tone indicated his roots in Coleman Hawkins' style, but Art Tatum also marked him, as Don's use of substitute chords indicates. Harmonically, he was as advanced as the boppers.

Penguin Guide.
A respectful pause for those figures condemned to the limbo of the "transitional". Don Byas dominates the strip of turf mid-way between Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker, combining the old man's vibrato and grouchy tone with Bird's limber solo style and fresh, open diction. Hard these days to recognize just how highly regarded Byas once was, until one actually hears him.

Scott Yanow, from the liner notes.
He left the Basie band in 1943 and became one of the unsung heroes of early bebop, matched - for sheer class and undue neglect - only by Lucky Thompson. To a degree, Byas rode his luck for (like one of those actresses said to be "loved" by the camera); he was always hugely flattered by the microphones of the time. To a large extent Byas is forgotten today. The reason is fairly obvious. In 1946, when he was 33, Byas visited Europe on a tour with Don Redman's Orchestra and decided to settle overseas. Although he worked steadily, Byas' absence from the New York scene resulted in his being overlooked not only in popularity polls, but in history books. His one return to America was fairly uneventful and occurred too late (1970) to correct the oversight.

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