We remember jazz composer and musician Jaki Byard. ("BY-ARD") He was found dead from a gunshot wound a week ago in his house in Queens. His death was ruled a homicide. He was 76. Byard was considered a stylistic virtuoso, who moved quickly in his playing from boogie-woogie to free jazz. He played with Charles Mingus and Rahassaan Roland Kirk and the Duke Ellington orchestra. Byard was also the composer of the first Fresh Air theme. We remember him with an interview and concert that originally aired 6/5/87. Byard is joined by tuba and bass player Ralph Hamperian.
The jazz pianist blends traditional forms with avant-garde harmonies. A favorite of the Fresh Air staff, he was commissioned to write and perform the program's theme song. He is joined by tuba and bass player Ralph Hamperian.
He's been awarded the 2005 Pianist of the Year award by the Jazz Journalist's Association, and he also received the first ever 2005 Playboy Magazine Jazz Artist of the Year. His new album is called Same Mother, which reflects the 30-year-old musician's current interest in the blues.