NEC Jazz Orchestra: The Music of Jaki Byard

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

In celebration of Jaki Byard’s 100th Birthday, the NEC Jazz Orchestra will play repertoire from Jaki Byard’s Apollo Stompers, including “Aluminum Baby,” “Spanish Tinge” and “Up Jumps One.”

Special guests include Carl Atkins, Jed Levy, and Jason Moran.

This performance will be in-person only. A digital broadcast of the performance will air on the NEC website on April 9 at 7:30 pm.

  • NEC Jazz Orchestra
  • Jason Moran, Piano
  • Carl Atkins, Composer
  • Jed Levy, Tenor Saxophone
  1. Jaki Byard | Up Jumps One

  2. Jaki Byard | Aluminum Baby

  3. Oscar Pettiford (arr. Jaki Byard) | Tricotism

  4. Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog (arr. Jaki Byard) | God Bless the Child

    • Yihong Guo, voice
  5. Jaki Byard | Spanish Tinge #1

    • Jed Levy, tenor saxophone
  6. Jaki Byard | Olean Visit

    • Jed Levy, tenor saxophone
  7. Carl Atkins | Blues for Wor-chester

    • Jed Levy, tenor saxophone
  8. Carl Atkins | Jaki Stomps

  9. Henry Sullivan & Harry Ruskin (arr. Jaki Byard) | I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful)

  10. Bios

    Jaki Byard was hired by Gunther Schuller to teach at the New England Conservatory in 1969. Byard continued to teach at NEC for over fifteen years, teaching arranging and improvisation, in addition to leading the Apollo Stompers, a big band composed of NEC students, which played for years every Wednesday night at Michael’s Pub on Gainsborough Street, in addition to performing on campus. Byard’s unique blend of historical awareness and creativity continue to influence NEC’s jazz curriculum to this day. 
            Jaki Byard was born in Worcester, MA almost 100 years ago, on June 15, 1922, in a family of musicians. His father played trumpet and trombone in marching bands, and his mother played the piano for the African Methodist Episcopalian Zion Church. His maternal grandmother played the piano for silent movies. Although Byard’s primary instrument was piano, he was also recorded playing drums, celeste, vibraphone, guitar and both alto and tenor saxophones. 

            During World War II, Byard was drafted into the army, where he met Earl Bostic, with whom he toured after the war. Later, he was a member of the bands of Herb Pomeroy (1952-55, recording in 1957) and Maynard Ferguson (1959-62). Byard also recorded extensively with Charles Mingus (1962-1964 and 1970), touring Europe with him in 1964. He contributed to Mingus’s landmark recordings Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) and Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963). He also made significant recordings as a sideman with Eric Dolphy, Booker Ervin and Sam Rivers. As a leader, he recorded a series of critically acclaimed recordings for the Prestige label during the 1960s: Here’s Jaki (1961), Out Front (1961), Hi-Fly (1962), Freedom Together (1966), Sunshine of My Soul (1967), and The Jaki Byard Experience (1968).

    During the course of a career that spans more than forty years, Carl Atkins has distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, woodwind specialist, arts administrator, arts consultant, and musicologist. His experience has covered a broad spectrum of music ranging from European concert music to “Jazz”. Among his credits are performances and recordings with such noted organizations and artists as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Columbus (Ohio) Pro Musica, the Boston Musica Viva, the American National Opera Co., the Boston Opera Co., the Black Collective of New York, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the John Coltrane Memorial Orchestra, Gunther Schuller, George Russell, David Baker, Bill Evans, Jaki Byard, and Herbie Hancock, among others. 
            Atkins received the Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University, the Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. He is the founding chair of the Jazz and Afro-American Music Department at New England Conservatory, the former President and Executive Director of the David Hochstein School of Music and Dance, and former President and CEO of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council for the Arts. Atkins has been a member of the Board of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, serving as chair of
    the board from 1993-1998. In 2006 he received the Guild’s President’s Award for Service to Community Arts Education. 
            Dr. Atkins has been a member of the faculties of New England Conservatory, Northeastern University, the University of Rochester, and the Eastman School of Music. He has been Co-Director, with jazz bass legend Ron Carter, of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at New England Conservatory, where he also held the position of Associate Dean for Advanced Studies. Currently, Dr. Atkins is Professor of Performing Arts-Music at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

    In 2012, the Jed Levy Quartet was selected by Jazz at Lincoln Center to tour for the US Department of State as part of their "Rhythm Road" project and the Quartet embarked on a 5 week tour of South and Central America. A few years later, this same group did a 16 city tour of The People’s Republic of China. Diversity has been the key to Levy's success on the New York scene. A recent week found him moving from a concert with the Cab Calloway Orchestra to a night with Mike Clark and Charley Hunter at the Knitting Factory, to the Apollo Theater with the Temptations and the Four Tops, to Birdland with Chico O'Farill's Afro Cuban Orchestra.
            In his presentations as a leader, as well as in his compositions, Levy tries to incorporate these varied musical experiences. His compositions have been recorded by such artists as the Headhunters, Don Friedman, Edde Henderson, and Mike Clark. His recordings One Night at the Kitano, Gateway,Evans Explorations, and The Italian Suite on Steeplechase have received critical acclaim. Jed's recent projects have included Peter Leitch's New Life Orchestra with a new double CD released in January 2021 that has garnered many excellent reviews. A co-led quartet with British guitarist Phil Robson which debuted at the 2019 London Jazz Festival and toured Europe and did gigs in the US including Yoshi's in California and Birdland in NYC.

    Since his formidable emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, Jason Moran has proven more than his brilliance as a performer, establishing himself as a risk-taker and innovator of new directions for jazz as a whole. In almost every category that matters – improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation – Moran, and his group The Bandwagon – with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits – have challenged the status quo, and earned the reputation as “the future of jazz.”
            Jazz pianist, composer, and performance artist, Jason Moran was born in Houston, TX in 1975 and earned a degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and is the Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center. Moran currently teaches at the New England Conservatory.
            Moran is deeply invested in reassessing and complicating the relationship between music and language, and his extensive efforts in composition, improvisation, and performance are all geared towards challenging the status quo while respecting the accomplishments of his predecessors. His activity stretches beyond the many recordings and performances with masters of the form including Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, and the late Sam Rivers, and his work with his trio The Bandwagon (with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen) has resulted in a profound discography for Blue Note Records. The scope of Moran’s partnerships and music-making with venerated and iconic visual artists is extensive. He has collaborated with such major figures as Adrian Piper, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Stan Douglas, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker; commissioning institutions of Moran’s work include the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dia Art Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Harlem Stage, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.



    Mike Cameron, alto saxophone, flute
    Ben Mizach, alto saxophone, flute

    Nick Ryder, tenor saxophone, flute
    Shota Renwick, tenor saxophone, flute
    Nick Biagini, baritone saxophone


    Miles Keingstein
    Michael Brehm
    Zoe Murphy
    Isaac Dubow

    Joseph Dies
    Cooper Malanowski
    Aiden Coleman
    Weza Jamison-Neto

    Rowan Barcham, piano
    Talia Rubenstein, guitar
    Benjamin Friedland, double bass
    Nadav Friedman, drums

    Yihong Guo, voice



Ken Schaphorst conducts the N E C Jazz Orchestra
In celebration of Jaki Byard’s 100th Birthday, the NEC Jazz Orchestra will play repertoire from Jaki Byard’s Apollo Stompers, including “Aluminum Baby,” “Spanish Tinge” and “Up Jumps One.”