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Monday 15 June 2020

Don Byas - Savoy Jam Party (The Savoy Sessions)

Side 1:
01) Riffin' And Jivin'
02) Free And Easy - 1 (alt)
03) Free And Easy - 2
04) Worried And Blue
05) Don's Idea - 1 (alt)
06) Don's Idea - 2
07) Savoy Jam Party Part 2
08) Savoy Jam Party Part 1

Side 2:
01) 1944 Stomp
02) What Do You Want With My Heart
03) Bass C Jam
04) Sweet And Lovely
05) White Rose Kick
06) My Deep Blue Dream
07) Byas'd Opinion
08) Candy

Side 3:
01) How High The Moon
02) Donby
03) Byas A Drink
04) I Don't Know Why
05) Danny Boy
06) Old Folks
07) Cherokee
08) September In The Rain

Side 4:
01) Living My Life
02) To Each His Own
03) They Say It's Wonderful
04) Cynthia's In Love
05) September Song
06) St. Louis Blues
07) I Found A New Baby
08) Marie

Savoy Jam Party (Zippy)

We continue our look at early Savoy sides and the NYC club scene with another 2LP set from the "Savoy Sessions" series, this time devoted to a major figure of jazz tenor sax - Don Byas. As with the recently posted "The Changing Face Of Harlem" collection there are outstanding sleevenotes by Dan Morgenstern which provide an outline of the early career of Don Byas and an in depth commentary on the tracks on this double LP set.

Carlos Wesley Byas came from Muskogee, Oklahoma. His musical career followed a path which will be familiar to readers of this blog - local bands in Oklahoma, bigger outfits in the Midwest, then a jump to California where he settled in LA for a while. In 1937 he arrived in New York, had spells with the Don Redman, Lucky Millinder and Andy Kirk bands and in early 1941 he took over the seat vacated by Lester Young in the Count Basie band, although it should be noted that it wasn't a direct substitution as Paul Bascomb (future R&B hero) had briefly occupied the position. Some of Don's work with Basie can be heard on the previous post of "Count Basie and his Orchestra - One o'Clock Jump."

Don left the Basie Orchestra in November 1943 and began the most interesting club-based part of his career, working with small groups on 52nd Street (especially with Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie) and jamming at the Harlem clubs of Minton's and Munroe's.

NYC 1944 - Coleman Hawkins, Benny Harris, Don Byas, Thelonious Monk and Denzil Best

You can find a critical account of the recordings of Don Byas, particularly with Basie and then in small group settings between 1944 and 1946 on the excellent Jazz Archeology website. The document is here:

This document provides marvellous detail of Don's recording activity both under his own name and as part of groups led by other musicians. The list includes not only official recordings for release on a multiplicity of labels, but also radio broadcasts and "unofficial" recordings by enthusiasts, all of which gives insight into the working life of a top class musician in 1940s New York.

The July 28th 1944 session featured on Side 1 of this collection was Don's first recording session under his own name. The August 1946 session on Side 4 of this collection turned out to be Don's second last recording date in the USA. The following month he recorded 4 sides for Gotham shortly before departing on a European tour with Don Redman. 

Thereafter Europe became the permanent home of Don Byas, a decision which may have caused his importance to be subsequently underestimated by Stateside jazz fans. Whether playing small group swing or alongside boppers, Don was a formidable but tasteful soloist as you can hear on this fine collection.

All The "Savoy Jam Party" 78rpm Releases ... and more:

Disc 1:

Bass-C-Jam / Free And Easy - Don Byas's Swing Shifters - Savoy 524 - October 1944

What Do You Want With My Heart / Don's Idea - Don Byas - Savoy 552 - April 1945 - released as part of the 78rpm album "Tenor Sax Album" (Savoy A-500)


Worried And Blue / Riffin and Jivin - Don Byas - Savoy 582 - January 1946 - released as part of the 78rpm album "Tenor Sax Album No. 2" (Savoy S-502)

Savoy Jam Party Part 1 - released on EP "Jam Session At Savoy Vol. 1" - Savoy XP 8077

Savoy Jam Party Part 2 - released on EP "Jam Session At Savoy Vol. 2" - Savoy XP 8078

Alternate takes of "Free And Easy" and "Don's Idea" first released on this LP

1944 Stomp (Just Can't Make Up My Mind) first released on this LP

Sweet And Lovely / White Rose Kick - The Emmett Berry Five - National 9001 - October 1944

Deep Blue Dream / Byas'd Opinions - The Emmett Berry Five - National 9002 - October 1944

Disc 2:

Candy / Byas-A-Drink - Don Byas Quintette - Savoy 574 - February 1946

How High The Moon - Don Byas Quintette / Ko Ko - Charlie Parker's Ri Bop Boys - Savoy 597 - April 1946

The following 6 tracks were recorded on May 17th, 1946 and not in 1945 as stated on the LP sleeve. Note that "Danny Boy" was released as "London-Donnie".

Donby - released on EP "Don Byas - Tenor Sax Solos Vol. 5" - Savoy XP 8039

I Don't Know Why / Cherokee - Don Byas Quartette - Savoy 609 - probably May / June 1946

Vot's Dot - Allen Eager Quartette / September In The Rain - Don Byas Quartette - Savoy 621 - October 1946 - released as part of the 78rpm album "Tenor Sax Stylists" (Savoy S-503)

London-Donnie / Old Folks - Don Byas Quartet - Savoy 628 - August 1950

The remaining tracks (Side 4) were recorded on August 21st, 1946 as per LP sleeve:

They Say It's Wonderful / Cynthia's In Love - Don Byas Quartet - Savoy 625 - September 1950

September Song / St. Louis Blues - Don Byas Quartet - Savoy 626 - September 1950 (?)

I Found A New Baby / Marie - Don Byas Quartet - Savoy 627 - September 1950

To Each His Own / Living My Life - Don Byas Quartette - Savoy 640 - September 1946

With thanks to The Internet Archive, The Jazz Disography Project, Bruyninckx, and Billboard. Keep swingin' y'all!


Eric said...

I love Don Byas, especially when he plays a ballad.

neil said...

Please cross-post at the Savoy blog, if you get a chance.

boogiewoody said...

It's possible Neil!