Jaki Byard, pianist, composer, leader
Most jazz pianists develop one style in their career and grow within themselves. Jaki Byard (1922-1999), one of the most versatile and eclectic pianists in jazz history, was a major exception for he was expert at playing virtually every jazz style yet always displayed his own musical personality. Byard could play stride piano à la James Johnson, emulate Erroll Garner and Dave Brubeck, and jam bebop with the fire and creativity of Bud Powell, but he was also one of the first pianists to explore free jazz à la Cecil Taylor.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Byard played piano and trumpet as a youth, adding trombone while in the Army, and tenor and alto saxes after his discharge. He picked up early experience working in many groups on the Boston jazz scene in addition to important associations with Earl Bostic (1949-1950) and with the big bands of Herb Pomeroy and Maynard Ferguson. Byard really came to the jazz world’s attention while a member of some of Charles Mingus’s finest groups during 1962-1964
Alan Dawson, drummer, composer, leader
There’s an old adage that says, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Those who believe this philosophy to be true obviously never heard of legendary jazz drummer Alan Dawson (1929-1996), a musician who was equally gifted as both a performer and teacher. In addition to mentoring numerous drummers as a faculty member at Berklee College of Music and beyond, Dawson had the distinction of performing with many world-renowned jazz musicians. Through working at Boston-area venues such as Wally’s Paradise and Lennie’s On The Turnpike, Dawson had the privilege to perform with such artists as Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Stitt, Phil Woods, and several others.
Alan Dawson Chops And Brains Equal A Boston Master by Pete Danckert “Yeah, Alan Dawson”, Max Roach reflected recently. “I consider him to be a key man. Alan was the drummer we had to contend with whenever we played New England”, Roach chuckled, remembering. “Man, we trembled when we knew we had to deal with him.
Performed last October in Cambridge with a trio of like-minded brothers!
Alex, the Creative Music Series