Dwarsliggers & Buitenbeentjes
Today episode 2 of a series dedicated to maverick Billy Byers (trombone, composer and arranger).
Just before Christmas in 1954, Billy Byers is back in a New York studio, again as a member of an eleven-man orchestra conducted by Al Cohn. The result of these recording sessions is released as Mr. Music on the RCA label.
I’ll let you hear five pieces from this album: in the classic bebop composition Move -written by drummer Denzil Best- Al Cohn creates a convivial swinging atmosphere à la Count Basie, as in Something for Lisa, a composition by Al Cohn himself.
By contrast, Al Cohn keeps the band in a firm arranger grip in La Ronde, Never Land and Count Every Star. In these three pieces, with a rich, saturated sound, Al Cohn almost constantly calls on all the band members, allowing few soloists to be featured. Finally, Billy Byers seizes his opportunity with a beautiful trombone solo in Count Every Star.
In late January/early February 1955, Billy Byers was involved in a bold RCA project highlighting three bassists: Milt Hinton, Wendell Marshall and Wyatt Ruther. The resounding result can be heard on the album Basses Loaded!
Each bassist has their own sextet and arranger at their disposal so the gentlemen can prove what they are capable of in four pieces at a time.
Al Cohn takes Milt Hinton under his wing; Manny Albam gets to show off Wyatt Ruther, and Billy Byers is assigned Wendell Marshall. And Billy Byers is also the trombonist who plays in the sextets around Milt Hinton and Wyatt Ruther.
This generation of bassists paved the way for the speed monsters and power bassists who took over in the 1960s and 1970s.