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Photos: Jaki Byard Symposium at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Rick Kessel shares photos from event celebrating legacy of the pianist and composer

Chet Williamson, WICN Radio host, at Jaki Byard symposium at WPI, Worcester, Mass., 4-14
Jerome Harris, bassist and guitarist, and Jamie Baum, flutist, at Jaki Byard symposium at WPI, Worcester, Mass., 4-14
Panel at Jaki Byard symposium at WPI (L to R): Rich Falco (WPI); Jerome Harris (guitarist and former Byard student); Jamie Baum (flutist, composer and founder of Yard Byard); Ken Schaphorst (New England Conservatory), Ed Schuller (Yard Byard)
Ran Blake
Ran Blake at Jaki Byard symposium at WPI, Worcester, Mass., April 2014 (photo: Rick Kessel)

Worcester Polytechnic Institute honored the memory of pianist and composer Jaki Byard, who was born and raised in the city of Worcester, Mass. The symposium and concert took place on April 13 at Alden Hall on the campus of WPI. Rich Falco, head of jazz studies at WPI, brought together a panel of professional musicians and educators who had performed, toured and worked with Byard to share their memories and experiences of his life. The event was hosted by Chet Williamson, WICN Worcester radio host, and was sponsored by the Rudge Family Foundation Fund along with the Shanon Fund.

A special part of the event was a brief performance and discussion with composer and pianist Ran Blake, who toured and performed with Byard earlier in his career. Byard’s memory was also honored by the mayor of Worcester, Joseph M. Petty, who read a proclamation declaring Jaki Byard Day in the city.

The symposium’s panel included Jerome Harris, guitarist and former Byard student; Ken Schaphorst, chair of the jazz department at New England Conservatory; George Schuller, co-leader of the tribute group Yard Byard; and John Sergenian, former member of Byard’s big band. The evening concert featured Yard Byard performing cuts from their newly released CD.

Originally Published