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September 28, 2007


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Don Byas was an absolute master of the tenor saxophone -- the bridge, in my mind, between Hawk's swing and Trane's sheets of sound. Listening to Byas on 1961's "A Tribute To Cannonball" with Bud Powell was a revelation to me. His performance was Olympian, capturing the whole history of jazz tenor to that point.

It's a shame his contributions aren't more valued but the more I've dug into jazz the more I've realized that those who really know and love the music, know and love Don Byas and think he is a master.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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