Monday, July 18, 2011

Jaki Byard - Freedom Together!

Pianist Jaki Byard's best recordings were done for Prestige in the 1960s, and fortunately, they have been gradually seeing reissue on CD in the Original Jazz Classics series. This is a particularly unusual and colorful set, for Byard not only plays piano, but makes appearances on celeste, electric piano, vibes, drums and tenor sax. His tenor playing (best heard on "Just You, Just Me") is particularly excellent, while his piano solos show his usual diversity, hinting at 50 years of jazz styles. With the assistance of bassist Richard Davis (who doubles on cello) and drummer Alan Dawson (who also contributes some tympani on "Ode to Prez," plus some vibes), Byard is in excellent form. Only the two rather ponderous vocals of Junior Parker are a minus, but this should not discourage listeners from acquiring this largely successful set.


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