CHRIS BYARS is an award-winning saxophonist, composer, bandleader, conductor and educator based in New York City. He divides his artistic focus between development of original material and studying the vast repertoire of jazz composers of the 20th century. Chris plays alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and clarinet. He performs with his band, which ranges from trio to octet, and as a sideman. Chris also leads big bands and conducts orchestras. For over two decades, he has been a staple of the New York City jazz scene, performing at the city's finest venues, including the Village Vanguard, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Smalls, Mezzrow, The Jazz Gallery and Iridium.
Chris is an innovative and prolific composer. He writes for ensembles of all sizes, from trio to full orchestra. His twelfth commercially-released CD as a leader, The Music of Frank Strozier, was released in January 2017.
Chris is also an original and elegant arranger. He arranges for vocalists and for ensembles of all sizes. He has been commissioned by the WDR Big Band to arrange a centennial celebration concert of Thelonious Monk’s compositions, to be performed in March 2017.
As a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, Chris has traveled to over 50 countries to perform concerts and present educational workshops.
Chris is an enthusiastic jazz educator. He teaches in affiliation with The New School and also privately, through his own studio or via Skype. He conducts jazz clinics at colleges throughout the U.S., such as The School for International Teaching in Brattleboro, VT.