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Jazz In Paris, Vol. 72: Bebop

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Album Review

Four different groups are heard on this compilation from the Jazz in Paris series. Although all groups were promoted as bop-oriented when they were overseas, the only bona fide bop musicians on the first two sessions are tenor saxophonist Don Byas and pianist Billy Taylor. The first date is jointly credited to Byas and trombonist Tyree Glenn (known for his work with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong); Glenn is an effective soloist, even though he's firmly a swinger at heart. But it is Byas' big-toned solos that stand out, especially in Dizzy Gillespie's "Dynamo A" (also known as "Dizzy Atmosphere"), along with the effective comping and solos of the relative youngster Billy Taylor, who also contributed "Mad Monk." Trumpeter Howard McGhee leads a sextet, featuring alto saxophonist Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath, sticking primarily to the leader's compositions. McGhee's writing is insignificant (especially when compared to Jimmy Heath's output over the decades which followed); better are the interpretations of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" and Tadd Dameron's loping "Big Will." The last four tracks feature tenor saxophonist James Moody, with Byas, trombonist Nat Peck, and pianist Bernard Peiffer along for the ride. Only one is a Moody original, but in spite of the strong performances, the lousy work of the session's engineer produced consistently overmodulated recordings. The musicians deserved better.

Biography

Born: October 21, 1912 in Muskogee, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

One of the greatest of all tenor players, Don Byas' decision to move permanently to Europe in 1946 resulted in him being vastly underrated in jazz history books. His knowledge of chords rivalled Coleman Hawkins, and, due to their similarity in tones, Byas can be considered an extension of the elder tenor. He played with many top swing bands, including those of Lionel Hampton (1935), Buck Clayton (1936), Don Redman, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk (1939-1940), and most importantly Count Basie (1941-1943)....
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