Carlos Wesley "Don" Byas (October 21, 1912 –
August 24, 1972) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist, most associated with
Don Byas was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Both of Byas'
parents were musicians. His mother played the piano, and his father, the clarinet.
Byas started his training in classical music, learning to play violin, clarinet
and alto saxophone, which he played until the end of the 1920s. Benny Carter,
who played many instruments, was his idol at this time. He started playing in
local orchestras at the age of 17, with Bennie Moten, Terrence Holder and
Walter Page. He founded and led his own college band, "Don Carlos and His
Collegiate Ramblers", during 1931-32, at Langston College, Oklahoma.
Byas switched to the tenor saxophone after he moved to the
West Coast and played with several Los Angeles bands. In 1933, he took part in
a West coast tour of Bert Johnson’s Sharps and Flats. He worked in Lionel
Hampton’s band at the Paradise Club in 1935 along with the reed player and
arranger Eddie Barefield and trombonist Tyree Glenn. He also played with Buck
Clayton, Lorenzo Flennoy and Charlie Echols.
Byas died in Amsterdam in 1972 from lung cancer, aged
Don Byas ts / Slam Stewart sb / Errol Garner p / Harold 'Doc' West d.
Recorded in New York on November 1, 1945.