Byard Lancaster

#tbt#ThrowbackThursday In 1989, I was walking on Broad Street near Chestnut. As I was walking I heard beautiful music being made. I turned the corner and headed towards 15th Street.

There was this man, standing on the corner, with his clarinet pointed towards the sky just playing and playing. It was awesome. I picked up my Nikon F3 and 85mm lens and started making pix. The musician was lost in his playing and barely noticed me standing by and making image after image.

Once he stopped playing, I asked his name for a caption. If it was a slow news day I was thinking I could get my editor, Gerry Benene, to use it as a weather feature. So, the man gave me his name. Byard Lancaster. He was a very pleasant, down to earth guy. Willing to chat with anyone who stopped by when he didn’t have the clarinet up to his lips. Well, it turned out that the guys was a pretty well regarded avante grade jazz musician. When he wasn’t in the studio or on tour, Byard told me he just liked to play for people and that’s what he dd on the Streets of Phildelphia.

I mentioned that I had photographed him to one of my colleagues who was into jazz and was told, “You met Jazz royalty today.” To me, while he may have been this world famous jazzman, he was just a very cool dude. Over the years I’d stop by if I heard him playing to say hello and shot the breeze.

Sadly, Byard Lancaster passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer, but when I look at these images, to this day I hear his beautiful music.