Jaki Byard, solo piano – Sunshine of My Soul – High Note

by | May 13, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Jaki Byard, solo piano – Sunshine of My Soul – High Note HCD 7169,  55:57 (1978) *****:

Pianist Jaki Byard could cover all the bases from stride, bop, blues, avant – Byard was a master of al idioms. On this High Note 1978 re-release from an engagement at the now defunct Keystone Korner in San Francisco, Byard provides a primer for all jazz pianists.

Tribute to the Ticklers opens the CD with homage to early stride and boogie-woogie pianists such as Fats Waller, Willie the Lion Smith and James P. Johnson. Jaki next shows that he can handle the complexity of Charles Mingus with a medley of Fables of Faubus and Peggy’s Blue Skylight. Hazy Eve has a classical recital vibe to it as it mixes melancholy with lyric beauty.

Blood, Sweat and Tears’ biggest hit, Spinning Wheel, gets the Byard treatment and the familiar theme gets a workout mixing more stride with lightning runs. Boogie Woogie In and Out is self-explanatory and a joyous romp. Emil (from Family Suite) is a classical theme and Besame Mucho is turned inside out and far from a familiar reading with
Byard’s left hand bass octaves competing with his right hand’s blistering speed. Sunshine is even more of the same.

Sunshine of My Soul is a near hour journey from Fats Waller passing through Art Tatum, Hank Jones and Bud Powell. Byard could do it all and on this brilliant High Note release, his mastery of numerous jazz idioms is in evidence. His tragic death from gunshot wounds in 1999 took from us a true piano genius. Sunshine of My Soul provides an opportunity to sample that genius.

1. Tribute To The Ticklers
2. Charles Mingus Medley: Fables Of Faubus/Peggy’s Blue Skylight
3. Hazy Eve
4. Spinning Wheel
5. Excerpts From ‘Songs Of Proverbs’
6. Boogie Woogie In And Out
7. Emil (From ‘Family Suite’)
8. Besame Mucho
9. Sunshine
10. Two Different Worlds
11. European Episodes

– Jeff Krow


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