Clyde Bysom - Musical Arts

Jazz player says music is 'my therapy'


J-W File Photo

Clyde Bysom performs with the Junkyard Jazz Band during a set at the American Legion last year. Bysom won a 2006 Phoenix Award for musical arts.

Clyde Bysom can be seen performing with the Junkyard Jazz Band every Thursday, the New Horizon Senior Band and Clarinet Quartet every Friday and the Jazzhaus Big Band every other Sunday.

He just turned 89 years old.

"Yes, I'm keeping busy," Bysom says.

Born in Missouri, Bysom moved to Lawrence in the third grade, where he took up clarinet.

He recalls playing his first live show in 1929 at the South Park Gazebo as a member of the Lawrence Boys Band. Nearly eight decades later, Bysom can be found dealing out tunes from that same outdoor platform.

"He never turns down a playing opportunity and is just a joy to work with and be around," says J.D. Parr, director of jazz ensembles at Baker University. "But I'm still blown away by his ability to improvise and play jazz on the clarinet and saxophone. Musical ideas just seem to spring from his instruments as they always have."

Bysom took a break from Lawrence and its music scene during World War II. He became an Air Force gun commander on a B-29.

"Our group was organized mostly to drop the two atomic bombs," he recalls.

While Bysom is comfortable playing various jazz styles, he prefers music in the style of World War II-era greats such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.

"I'm really a proponent of big band music, and music in general," he says. "It's really my therapy."


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