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Album Review

This very interesting release matches together Ran Blake and Jaki Byard in a set of piano duets. Because Byard (who can play credibly in virtually every jazz style) is highly flexible, he was able to meet Blake on his own terms and inspire him to play more extrovertedly than usual. Their seven collaborations (a pair of standards, one recent obscurity, Blake's "Wende" and three songs co-written by the pianists) have their playful moments, are quite exploratory, and always hold one's interest. In other words, this matchup works.


Born: June 15, 1922 in Worcester, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The late Jaki Byard was, arguably, the most versatile pianist in jazz, though he also played trumpet and was an excellent tenor saxophonist. Born in 1922, he grew up during the golden era, and while younger than Duke Ellington, he embraced, as had his predecessor, all of the changes the music went through, from its origins in New Orleans through the free improvisation era. Byard would, in a single solo concert, reveal his truly awesome mastery of the aforementioned styles, as well as R&B, stride,...
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Improvisations, Jaki Byard
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