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A lesser-known avant-gardist who based much of his career in Philadelphia, Byard Lancaster was an advanced improviser who was not shy to show the influence of blues and soul in his solos. He played with Sunny Murray starting in 1965 and worked with Bill Dixon (1966-1967), Sun Ra (off and on between 1968-1971), and McCoy Tyner (1971-1977). Lancaster played for a bit with Memphis Slim in Paris, but mostly performed jazz locally. All of his own recordings were for obscure labels (including Vortex, Dogtown, Palm, Philly Jazz, and Bellows), but his 1966 ESP date with Sunny Murray was reissued digitally. Byard Lancaster died of cancer in August 2012 at the age of 70.
Byard Lancaster (August 6, 1942 – August 23, 2012) was a jazz saxophonist and flutist.
He attended two colleges, one of them for music, before eventually deciding to pursue an education at the Berklee College of Music, then moving to New York. In the city, he participated in loft jam sessions which included saxophonist Archie Shepp and drummer Elvin Jones. In 1965, he recorded Sunny Murray Quintet with the album's eponymous musician in New York, performed in the Parisian Actuel festival with him in 1969, and has continued to work in the drummer's groups throughout his career. By the 1970s, Lancaster had played with musicians such as McCoy Tyner, Khan Jamal and Sun Ra, as well as some outside of the jazz idiom, including Memphis Slim and Johnny Copeland. Near the end of his life he performed regularly with cellist David Eyges, and recorded as a leader and sideman for Creative Improvised Music Projects. He died of pancreatic cancer on August 23, 2012.Cook, Richard. (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-102646-4 Allen, Clifford. (2005). Byard Lancaster: From A Love Supreme to The Sex Machine. Retrieved January 5, 2008, from http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=17125 Strauss, Neil (1997, July 4). Johnny Copeland, 60, who sang Texas Blues and played guitar. The New York Times. (2006). Byard Lancaster - Creative Improvised Music Projects. Retrieved January 5, 2008, from http://www.cimprecords.com/artists/?artist=Byard+Lancaster Dan DeLuca, Inquirer Music Critic. "Byard Lancaster, RIP". Philly.com. Retrieved 2012-08-24.