Massachusetts native Jaki Byard brought a wide range of styles and a dose of good fun into his piano playing. Also a saxophonist (often at the same time as piano!), he worked with Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Art Blakey, Roland Kirk, Sam Rivers, Charlie Mariano, Quincy Jones (on the groovy Smackwater Jack), Booker Ervin, Elvin Jones and others, including a duet record with Earl Hines. He even filled in for Duke Ellington at times when the leader was ill!
He had been an educator in colleges since the late '60s and continued to record and tour around the world. Disturbingly, he was murdered in his home at the age of 76, by a gunman for reasons still unknown. I had seen one of his final concerts just a few months before. But his music lives on. He always maintained some old school styles but worked them into more modern concepts.