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DON BYAS  (26 january 2005)

It was in the late ninety-sixties that I lived in the Witte de Withstraat in Amsterdam (click ).

I have never been a regular visitor of bars, but there was one bar that I liked a lot: 't Trefpunt on the corner of the Witte de Withstraat and the Postjesweg. The owner was a friendly man with an exotic name: mr Imambaks.

The atmosphere there was different from any bar I have ever been. On Saturdays the regulars often made live music.

One afternoon when I was there with my friend Jos ( click), there were two black men playing billiards. They turned out to be the jazz musicians Ben Webster and Don Byas.

Ben & Don

We got talking to them. When the game was finished, Don asked us if we cared to smoke some hash and listen to some records.

Well, we certainly did. Don lived close to the bar, so a few minutes later, we were smoking very good hash at Don's home and listening to his records.

I discovered Don's best talent lay in ballads. I heard one of his CDs a few days ago and I still agree: Don's at his best in ballads ( click).

But the fun didn't last forever. After half an hour or so, the lady of the house came home. And Don had to put away his hasheesh and his records.

And we said goodbye to this man and his great music.

Don Byas died on on August 24, 1972.

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