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 sextet and as a sideman for other New York City groups. Chris also leads big bands and conducts orchestras. For three 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 15th commercially-released CD as a leader, On the Shoulders of Giants, will be released in March 2020.
A frequent guest arranger/conductor for the WDR Big Band of Köln, Germany; he was the musical director for Tribute to Bud Powell starring guitarist Pasquale Grasso in April 2019; he is scheduled to write a large-scale work in tribute to Charlie Parker's Centennial to be premiered by the NDR Big Band in Hamburg, Germany in August 2020.
As a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, Chris has traveled to 46 countries, performing concerts and present educational workshops.
Chris is an enthusiastic educator. He teaches in affiliation with The New School and also privately, through his own studio or via Skype. He has conducted clinics at Manhattan School of Music, The College of San Mateo, and The School for International Teaching in Brattleboro, VT., and has directed or co-directed large scale educational projects such as Bronx Jazz Series, The Music of Gigi Gryce, American Jazz In Syria, and Jazz Futures Bicommunal Workshop in Cyprus.