Donald Byrd: Donald Byrd: Electric Byrd
The second track, "Essence," begins with some African-sounding stringed instrument plucking out an intricate tribal rhythm. Wally Richardson's wah-pedaled guitar growls underneath with heavy restraint. Funky sounds flow forth from the rhythm section, comprised of pianist Duke Pearson, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Mickey Roker. Roker's inventive and energetic playing is a classic example of why a band is only as good as its drummer. Saxophonist Frank Foster, a veteran of the Count Basie Band, explores the wondrous possibilities of the echo-effect, playing a mean sounding tenor that reverberates between your ears long after he's stopped. Brazilian percussion master, Airto Moreira, takes the music up another notch with his exotic rhythms. Airto also contributes a memorable original, "Xibaba," a Brazilian spiced, acid-laced groove that opens with Byrd's distorted trumpet echoing out Middle-Eastern sounding riffs that could be blasted from the minarets beckoning the faithful to pray. After a somewhat ponderous opening, "Xibaba" heats-up with complex arrangements, cosmic sound effects, and swirling rhythms.
"The Dude" closes the record with one of the heaviest grooves ever set down by any jazz artistan absolute classic that deserves space on any funky mix you might want to make for your friends. And with a name like "The Dude," how could it be anything other than bad-assed? Move over Lebowski. An album often lumped in with Donald Byrd's more artistically barren work of the 1970s, Electric Byrd is a misunderstood masterpiece that should be investigated.
Track Listing: Estavinico (11:00); Essence (10:30); Xibaba (13:35); The Dude (8:00).
Personnel: Donald Byrd: Trumpet
Jerry Dodgion: Alto & Soprano Sax, Flute
Frank Foster: Tenor Sax, Alto Clarinet
Lew Tabackin: Tenor Sax, Flute
Pepper Adams: Baritone Sax, Clarinet
Hermeto Pascoal: Flute (on "Xibaba" only); Duke Peason: Electric Piano; Wally Richardson: Guitar; Ron Carter: Bass; Mickey Roker: Drums; Airto Moreira: Percussion.
Record Label: Blue Note Records