Finally a worthy tribute to Don Byas in The Netherlands

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The CD – “Don Byas meets the Jacobs Brothers” is not just a collection of songs. It gives a picture of an interesting part of Dutch jazz history: the mix of European talent and a top American musician. The album is the third in a series of historic concerts issued by the Dutch Jazz Archive: The Treasures of Dutch Jazz.

Don Byas lived the last seventeen years of his life in the Netherlands. He died in 1972 in Amsterdam at the age of 59. Now, decades later programs, there is the first Dutch album of this famous tenor saxophonist. The radio broadcast recordings of a Don Byas concert in Haarlem in 1964 has become an important tribute. Don Byas was one of the most important tenor saxophonists of the bebop era. Later influences of modern movements in jazz found their way into his game. Celebrities like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins spoke with reverence about him. Coleman Hawkins was his main influence when he was a young saxophonist. When he played in the Count Basie big band, he sat on the chair position of Lester Young had. After Byas left the orchestra, Young reoccupied that chair!

After a tour in Europe with the Don Redman big band in 1946, Don Byas decided to stay in Europe. Initially he lived in Paris. While in The Netherlands, he met his Dutch wife and settled in Amsterdam. Despite the fact that he lived for seventeen years in The Netherlands, was never recorded an entire album in his second homeland. There is an EP “Blues by Byas’, but that’s all there is.

That’s now been corrected posthumously with this first rate CD. On “Don Byas meets The Jacobs Brothers”, the tenor saxophonist is in great shape. At the time of the original recording, his fellow musicians where considered the Netherlands finest. For example, pianist Pim Jacobs often had American musicians request he play with them while in Europe. Jacobs younger brother Ruud Jacobs and drummer John Engels formed a swinging duo – both, incidentally, still play.

Don Byas plays impressive solos include “On Green Dolphin Street,” “I remember Clifford” and “Moonlight in Vermont”. The listener can really take time to appreciate this wonderful 11 track CD as it last for 75 minutes.

The liner notes were written by Cornelis Hazevoet who was originally a jazz pianist by profession and in 1972 received the Wessel Ilcken Prise: then the major Dutch jazz award. In 1980, Cornelis Hazevoet went to studied biology, later achieving his Ph.D.  Cornelis remained fascinated by Don Byas,  and he has compiled a two part Don Byas discography, divided into a USA part and a European part. It can be viewed and downloaded at (1938-1946) and (1946-1972).

“Don Byas meets the Jacobs Brothers – Groovin’ High” (NJA 1603).

More information:

Royalty free images – via search Don Byas on wikipedia

Last modified: July 15, 2018