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D-MoZone is the place to find out what’s new with pianist/composer/educator Diane Moser. Keep an eye on this blog for updates on music, health, gigs, fundraisers, random thoughts and all things D-Mo. And please keep sending your thoughts, good wishes and comments this way—they’re always needed and always appreciated.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Diane Moser's Composers Big Band plays the music of Jaki Byard June 13th!

Diane Moser's Composers Big Band
plays the music of Jaki Byard

Wednesday June 13th
$15 cover
Trumpets Jazz Club
6 Depot Square
Montclair, NJ 07043

On Wednesday June 13th, Diane Moser's Composers Big Band dives into the big band music of Jaki Byard. Mr. Byard, who died in 1999 and who would have been 90 on June 15th, was considered one of our most ingenious and influential pianists in the history of Jazz. It is unusual that we feature the music of a composer who has passed on. We featured Oliver Nelson's music twice, back when we were in residence at Tierney's Tavern, and we have a few Mingus charts in the book, but there are two connections to Jaki Byard in the band that makes this a special night. Our lead alto saxophonist Ed Xiques played with Jaki and his big band in the 1950's in Boston and I studied with Jaki in the late 80's while attending graduate school at the Manhattan School of Music. Most of these arrangements have not been played or heard since before his death, so this indeed will be a very special night.

Here are some memories from Ed Xiques...

"As I recall, it was the Fall of 1958 that I began playing with Jaki in Boston into possibly the fall of 1960.  Jaki was very important to me. His  creativity was extraordinary and I am still in awe of his musicianship to this day, when I hear his recordings or play one of his compositions. I think he is a very important part of Jazz history and is probably very underrated. 
I was 19 years old and honored to be a part of his band and never missed a rehearsal even when ill. He also played alto and tenor on the gigs and was amazing, again, with his sound and swing feel and creativity. We played at a club in Roxbury, Mass.[ did a few radio shows from there] and I remember a concert in Worcester, Mass, and the concert at Boston University where the photo (above) was taken by Jaki's wife, Louise. This is the only photo I have, thanks to John Sergenian.  By the way, Jaki used to carry a small copy of that photo in his wallet." 
(In the photo above...John Sergenian is to the far left playing tenor, and Ed Xiques is the second from the right, also playing tenor....Mark Levine is standing..taking a solo..playing trombone.)
 I'll be posting more memories from myself, Mark Levine and John Sergenian in a week or so, but I wanted to tell you the wonderful story of how we came to be in possession of this music, if only for a little while...

Since Jaki's death in 1999, I have been searching for his big band music, but each lead would end up with nothing, until this past summer. I was attending a performance of the Hudson Valley Jazz Workshop in Hudson, NY when a chance encounter with saxophonist John Sergenian led to a discussion about the music of Jaki Byard. John had also played in Jaki's big band in the 1950's along side Ed Xiques. When I told him of my years of searching, he told me he had several of the big band charts, and would be happy to share them with us. I remember grabbing John, who I had only just met, giving him a big hug and a kiss and told him I couldn't believe that we were finally going to get to play this music!

Stay tuned for more memories...but in the meantime...here are some links for you...
and a recent concert of Jaki's big band music by the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra...along with a recording of the performance
Also, if any of you have memories that you would like to share...send them to me and I will post them on my blog.
More soon.......

1 comment:

  1. A Jaki Byard quote...via Mike Kaplan.....We're gonna play this tune as fast as we can.....so we can take a break as fast as we can.... so we can hit the bar as fast as we can...., so we can get back and play the last set as fast we can.... so we can go home and get some shut eye as fast as we can.......
    Jaki would use this as a set closer.