Joe Byrd / Howard Alden: Duets (2006)
Duets is a notable release that pushes an often overly modest bassist into the solo limelight, and also features a widely admired guitarist in one of his better performances. Joe Byrd has always been known for his mastery of the supportive aspects of playing the bass, especially his precise sense of time, and his solid bluesy sound, but rarely has his solo work been so prominently featured. Not surprisingly, he carries over his jazz savvy as an accompanist into his solo work. A careful listen to his solo on the CD's opening track, "Satin Doll, or on "I Thought About You will provide all the evidence one would need to keep Byrd in the spotlight.
Howard Alden seems to have an affinity for duet playing. Anyone who has heard his recordings with guitarist George Van Eps will be aware that he excels in this context. Duets is a well-recorded live performance that catches Alden on a particularly good night. His long, fluid solos and precise technique are evidence of his mastery. His long, beautifully developed solos on "All Of Me and "In A Sentimental Mood demonstrate guitar playing at a level that only the best of his peers can equal.
Recorded live at Reynold's Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland, Duets is a consistently fine recording of two accomplished pros who sound like they've been playing together a very long time. Byrd's solid, earthy bass lines provide the foundation to the success of this disc; it is easy to hear why he has been an essential part of so many successful recordings. Alden has rarely sounded as rhythmically fluid and as technically sharp as he does here. This is a wonderful duet performance that deserves a sophisticated audience of attentive listeners.
Track Listing: Satin Doll; Mood Indigo; Girl From Ipanema; I Thought About You; All Of Me; In A Sentimental Mood; Pennies From Heaven; My Romance; Perdido; Nuages; Out Of Nowhere.
Personnel: Howard Alden: guitar; Joe Byrd: bass.
Record Label: Self Produced