Billy Byers

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William Mitchell Byers (May 1, 1927 - May 1, 1996) was an American jazz trombonist and arranger.

Early life[edit]

Byers was born in Los Angeles on May 1, 1927,[1] he suffered from arthritis from a young age and was unable to continue his plans of a career as a pianist.[2]

Later life and career[edit]

He picked up trombone and played with Karl Kiffle before serving in the Army in 1944-45.[2] In the second half of the 1940s he arranged and played trombone for Georgie Auld, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, Charlie Ventura, and Teddy Powell.[2] Following this he composed for WMGM (AM) radio and television in New York City.[2] In the middle of the 1950s he was in Paris arranging; he also led a session of his own, released as Jazz on the Left Bank, at this time.[1][2] Later in the 1950s in Europe he played with Harold Arlen (1959–1960) and with the orchestra of Quincy Jones,[2] he became Jones's assistant at Mercury Records in the 1960s, and arranged for Count Basie albums.[2] He also recorded some Duke Ellington standards on his own,[2] he toured Europe and Japan alongside Frank Sinatra in 1974.[2] Byers had extensive credits arranging and conducting for film,[2] and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations for City of Angels.[3]

Byers died in Malibu, California, on May 1, 1996.[1] Material from his career is held by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.[1]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Count Basie

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Al Cohn

With Billy Eckstine

With Coleman Hawkins

With J. J. Johnson

  • Goodies (RCA Victor, 1965) as arranger/conductor

With Quincy Jones

With Lee Konitz

With Jack McDuff

With Gary McFarland

With Hal McKusick

With Carmen McRae

With Joe Newman

With Lalo Schifrin

With Bud Shank

With Charlie Shavers

  • Excitement Unlimited (Capitol, 1963)

With Julius Watkins

With Andy Williams

With Cootie Williams

With Kai Winding

With Frank Zappa


  1. ^ a b c d Flanagan, David (2003), Byers, Billy (William Mitchell), Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, retrieved December 5, 2018
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wynn, Ron. "Billy Byers". AllMusic. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  3. ^ "City of Angels". Retrieved December 5, 2018.