Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Over thirty years ago I wandered into Windows shop in Newcastle and found an LP called Blues Pour Flirter. It was recorded in Paris in 1962 and features Don Byas on tenor saxophone. I didn’t care much for the title, especially when I looked at the listing to find that there wasn’t a single blues among the tracks – they’re all ballads. I bought the album anyway and am glad I did because Don Byas plays beautifully throughout, and one of the tracks has been a particular favourite of mine ever since.

Some of the tracks involve a big studio orchestra including strings and woodwinds but my favourite has Don Byas on tenor saxophone accompanied by a rhythm section of Christian Garros on drums, Pierre Sim on bass and George Arvanitas on piano. They play a ravishing version of the Jerome Kern standard  Smoke Gets InYour Eyes, which someone has had the good grace to put on YouTube. It seems this and some of the other tracks on the album I bought way back when have been reissued on another album.

I love the huge sound Don Byas produces as he plays this tune,  like a lion playing with a cub. At one point it seems like he’s going to tear it apart but it all ends peacefully. How I wish I could play like this!


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