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Ryan Bruce

[John Arthur, Jr.]

(b Worcester, MA, June 15, 1922; d Queens, NY, Feb 11, 1999). American jazz pianist, composer, educator, and bandleader. He was technically proficient at playing rags, stomps, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop, and free jazz, but his performance career never conformed to any specific style or era. He is perhaps best known for his work with the Charles Mingus group (1962–5, 1970), with whom he recorded albums such as Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus (1963, Imp.). He studied classical music from the age of five or six until he was 20 and began playing jazz on the trumpet when he was 16. As a jazz pianist, his early influences included Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Earl Hines, and Count Basie. After working with various groups in the 1950s, including three years with Earl Bostic around 1950, Byard recorded frequently from 1957 to 1962 with leaders such as Herb Pomeroy, Maynard Ferguson, Don Ellis, and Eric Dolphy. At this time he also recorded his first albums as a leader, ...