Jaki Byard Day

June 15, 1922 – February 11, 1999

Jazz Piano Workshop 1965

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Pianist, composer and arranger Arthur “Jaki” Byard was born on June 15, 1922 in Worchester, Massachusetts.

He came from a piano playing family and started lessons at 6 and became a professional at 16.

Byard recorded over 20 albums as a leader and countless as a sideman including several important albums with Charles Mingus.

In addition he was a talented composer as well as a multi-instrumentalist who could perform proficiently on trumpet and various saxophones.

Jaki as he became known started his career as a jazz musician when he was sixteen with bands led by Freddy Bates and Doc Kentross.

Both his musical understanding and abilities continued to develop of during the early 1940s apart from jazz with the additional study of classical compositions by Stravinsky and Chopin.

In the early ’50s Jaki Byard formed a formed a bebop group with Joe Gordon and Sam Rivers in Boston before moving to New York where he worked with Maynard Ferguson, and more extensively with Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy through the 1960s. He would also record a string of albums as leader for the Prestige label during the period.

In later years Jaki held teaching positions at the New England Conservatory, the Hartt School of Music, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the Manhattan School of Music.

Jaki Byard performs during a 1965 jazz piano workshop in Germany.


Jaki Byard, piano
Reggie Workman, bass
Alan Dawson, drums


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