Byard Lancaster


Byard Lancaster (August 6, 1942 – August 23, 2012) was an avant-garde jazz saxophonist and flutist.

He attended two colleges, one for music, before attending the Berklee College of Music. He moved to New York City and participated in 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 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 jazz, such as blues pianist Memphis Slim and blues guitarist Johnny Copeland.

Near the end of his life he performed regularly with cellist David Eyges and recorded as a leader and sideman for the record label Creative Improvised Music Projects. He died of pancreatic cancer on August 23, 2012.


As leader

  • 1968: It's Not Up to Us (Vortex)
  • 1972: Live at Macalester College (Dogtown) as the J. R. Mitchell/Byard Lancaster Experience
  • 1974: Us (Palm)
  • 1974: Mother Africa (Palm)
  • 1974: Exactement (Palm)
  • 1977: Exodus (Philly Jazz)
  • 1979: Funny Funky Rib Crib (Vendémiaire/Palm)
  • 1979: Documentation: The End of a Decade
  • 1979: Personal Testimony (Then and Now)
  • 1988: Lightnin' Strikes!
  • 1993: Worlds (Gazell)
  • 2001: Philadelphia Spirit in New York
  • 2005: A Heavenly Sweetness
  • 2008: Useless Education Promo Preview

As sideman

With Sunny Murray

  • Sunny Murray Quintet (1966)

With Odean Pope

  • The Ponderer (Soul Note, 1990)

With Bill Laswell

  • Sacred System - Nagual Site (Wicklow/BMG, 1998)

With Arcana

  • Arc of the Testimony (Axiom, 1997)

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