Chris was mentored by legendary arranger Don Sebesky, and has decades of experience providing music preparation assistance, including arranging, re-orchestrating, copying, transcribing, formatting and ghost-writing. Chris is available to create charts for ensembles of all sizes, from lead sheets and trio arrangements, to mid-size jazz groups, to big band and full orchestra.
Chris recently arranged and conducted a concert program for the WDR Big Band of Cologne, Germany titled Tribute to Bud Powell, featuring guitarist Pasquale Grasso, performed in April 2019. He has worked with the WDR five times previously: Farewell John Marshall, a retrospective; Monk @100, in honor of the great composer's centennial; Re-Boppin’, featuring original arrangements of classic jazz, Köln Evolution Suite, an extended Byars composition dedicated to the host city, and Beyond Klezmer, a cross-genre collaboration with clarinetist David Krakauer.
In March 2020, SteepleChase Records will release Chris Byars's 15th CD as a leader, titled On the Shoulders of Giants. It features an innovative sound: new compositions presented without a chordal instrument. Through a 4 Horn / 2 Rhythm format, Byars delivers a collection of recent works in a skillfully arranged setting.
The Riverdale Sinfonietta presented Chris's original homage to his Bronx neighborhood in January 2017, entitled Riverdale Suite, which Chris composed and scored for chamber orchestra and jazz sextet.
Chris received Chamber Music America's New Works commission in 2009, composing the extended suite Bop-ography, which musically described the life of the guest performer, vibraphonist Teddy Charles. The Chris Byars Ensemble received the CMA/ASCAP Award for Outstanding Programming in 2009.
Music preparation clients include Jimmy Heath, Barry Manilow, Liza Minelli, Bette Midler, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, WDR Big Band, The New York Pops, Omaha Symphony, the Estate of Billy Strayhorn, Lapis Luna and Hillary Kole. Chris also enjoys writing for singers, and has created original arrangements for John Pizzarelli, Amy London, Shawn Clark, Sasha Dobson, Irene Athanasiou, Ioanna Troullidou, Charlotte Storer, David Allyn, Shirley Martin, Yaala Ballin, and Alexia Vassiliou.