Don Byas – Laura (1950-1952) (1981/2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 00:55:13 minutes | 983 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © RevOla
Don Byas was clearly a rising star when he walked away from fame. He was the first to hold the Lester Young chair in the Count Basie, before his 30th birthday. After two years with Basie he moved to New York City, where he played and recorded with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins. In 1946 Byas toured Europe and decided France was the place he wanted to live, and so he did.
Laura is a compilation of several recordings made by Byas between 1950 and 1952. This is Byas in a swing mode, playing slow to moderate tempo standards and ballads, and he is nothing short of magnificent. His playing is lavishly creative and sensual, with a background strain of melancholy. This is romantic swing music with Byas’s sax front and center, singing out line after line of beautifully constructed tenor solos.
All three bands play capable, supportive roles, with the drummers consistently demonstrating a light touch. Occasionally, a pianist contributes a concise solo, with Art Simmons offering sensitive accompaniment and intelligent solo work throughout. But these are polite bands that graciously leave the spotlight to the saxophone. The gorgeous opener, “Summertime,” sets the after-hours feel of the recording, and Byas never lets up.
Laura is one of French label Gitane’s Jazz in Paris series, notable not only for the quality of its releases but also for its handsome cover photos. Not since the old Blue Note covers from the 1950s and ’60s has there been such an attractive presentation of jazz. Perhaps a few up-tempo tunes would have provided more variety to this recording, but for those in the mood for a master saxophonist playing some of the best laid back swing saxophone you’re ever likely to hear, then Laura just might be the one.
1. Don Byas – Summertime (Remastered)
2. Don Byas – Night And Day (Remastered)
3. Don Byas – Easy To Love (Remastered)
4. Don Byas – Where Or When? (Remastered)
5. Don Byas – Flamingo (Remastered)
6. Don Byas – Stardust (Remastered)
7. Don Byas – Old Man River (Remastered)
8. Don Byas – The Man I Love (Remastered)
9. Don Byas – Georgia On My Mind (Remastered)
10. Don Byas – Over The Rainbow (Remastered)
11. Don Byas – Laura (Remastered)
12. Don Byas – Somebody Loves Me (Remastered)
13. Don Byas – Old Folks At Home (Remastered)
14. Don Byas – Riviera Blues (Blue A La Don) (Remastered)
15. Don Byas – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Remastered)
16. Don Byas – I Cover The Waterfront (Remastered)
17. Don Byas – It’s The Talk Of The Town (Remastered)
18. Don Byas – A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody (Remastered)