Donald Byrd

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Off to the Races (1958), 5.5/10
Fuego (1959), 6/10
Byrd in Hand (1959), 6/10
Free Form (1961), 6/10
A New Perspective (1963), 7/10
Fancy Free (1969), 5.5/10
Electric Byrd (1970), 6/10
Ethiopian Knights (1971), 7/10
Black Byrd (1972), 4/10
Street Lady (1973), 5/10
Stepping Into Tomorrow (1974), 5/10
Places and Spaces (1975), 5/10

Another hard-bop musician who adopted Miles Davis' electric language was trumpeter Donald Byrd (1932), who had started out with diligent hard-bop workouts such as The Long Two Four off Pepper Adams' 10 to 4 at the Five-Spot (april 1958), Down Tempo, off Off to the Races (december 1958), with altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Wynton Kelly, baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Taylor, the 11-minute Funky Mama, off Fuego (october 1959), Here Am I, off Byrd in Hand (may 1959), and Free Form, from Free Form (december 1961), in a quintet with tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock.
After the innovative A New Perspective (january 1963), for hard-bop septet (with tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Herbie Hancock) and gospel choir (Elijah, Beast of Burden), Byrd veered towards a funk-jazz sound that was heavily influenced by Miles Davis, and characterized by a prominent role for Duke Pearson's electric piano, longer (Byrd-composed) tracks and lush arrangements: Fancy Free, off Fancy Free (june 1969), Estavianco and Essence, off Electric Byrd (may 1970), The Emperor and The Little Rasti, off Ethiopian Knights (august 1971), perhaps the best of this phase.
However, Black Byrd (april 1972) was a commercial sell-out that opted for a more trivial format, with shorter songs (none composed by Byrd) and funky rhythms: Byrd's trumpet had become a mere ingredient in the stew concocted by producer, arranger and composer Larry Mizell. Mizell was the brain behind the concept album Street Lady (june 1973), that introduced a strong element of soul music, the ethnic and electronic Stepping into Tomorrow (december 1974), and the orchestral Places and Spaces (august 1975), that spawned the disco hit Change.

Donald Byrd died in 2013 at the age of 80.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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