303

Royce Campbell feat. Gene Bertoncini: A Tribute to Charlie Byrd

Matt Merewitz By

Sign in to view read count
Royce Campbell feat. Gene Bertoncini: A Tribute to Charlie Byrd Sharing a rare commitment to the mastery of their instrument, jazz guitarists have a strong bond to an axe which – despite huge popularity in other genres – has by and large, seemed to elude jazz throughout the music’s history. When thinking of true non-crossover jazz guitarists, only a handful come to mind: Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Freddie Green (only in terms of longevity, not originality), and Grant Green. George Benson’s roots were in straight-ahead but he eventually sold out to the tasteless modern aesthetic of smooth jazz. And then there was Charlie Byrd. In terms of legends, that’s really it!

In a century when guitar became the most widely heard and played instrument in the world, namely in non-jazz settings, jazz guitarists’ dedication to their trade is admirable since they represent a handful of instrumentalists that dared to delve head-on into the jazz idiom. If you think about it, the aforementioned can only truly be called jazz legends, compared to the throngs of saxophonists, trumpeters, pianists, bassists, and drummers out there credited for great contributions to the music’s development.

Germany's Jardis label prides itself on producing the finest in today’s jazz guitar. Following his critically acclaimed Trioing with drummer Bill Goodwin and fellow DC native bassist Paul Langosch (long a collaborator with crooner Tony Bennett), the mostly unknown guitarist Royce Campbell released his second effort for Jardis, A Tribute to Charlie Byrd. Campbell’s professional connection to Byrd originated in 1998, when the two and veteran Gene Bertoncini, another regional name, collaborated for a tribute to another six string master, Joe Pass.

When asked to do the tribute album, Campbell thought it fitting that Bertoncini be on the project. Having worked closely with the man who had greatly influenced the introduction and acceptance of the Brazilian bossa nova and samba within the jazz world, Campbell appropriately chose to do mostly bossa nova works by Jobim and songs out of the Duke Ellington songbook: tunes that had been close to Byrd’s heart.

While the session is highly predictable and laid back, the solo work is magnificent and the overall artistry of the musicians is masterful. Filling out the quartet is a “who’s who” of DC’s thriving jazz scene. Drummer and vibraphonist Chuck Redd (also of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra) displays tasteful stick and brushwork, very reminiscent of the Charlie Byrd “feel” – not surprising since Redd had been Byrd’s own drummer for 19 years. And finally, one of DC’s living jazz legends, Keter Betts fills in on bass. You might recognize Betts’ name from several years as bassist for both Byrd and “First Lady of Song” Ella Fitzgerald.

Highly recommended.


Track Listing: 1) Shiny Stockings (Frank Foster) / 2) Meditation (A.C. Jobim) / 3) The Days Of Wine And Roses (Henry Mancini) / 4) Mood Indigo (Duke Ellington) / 5) How Insensitive (A.C. Jobim) / 6) Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart (James Hanley) / 7) Desafinado (A.C. Jobim) / 8) In A Mellow Tone (Duke Ellington) / 9) Prelude To A Kiss (Duke Ellington) / 10) One Note Samba (A.C. Jobim) / 11) Blues For Charlie (Royce Campbell)

Personnel: Royce Campbell, electric guitar, Gene Bertoncini, acoustic guitar, Chuck Redd, drums, Keter Betts, bass.

Title: A Tribute to Charlie Byrd | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Jardis Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Magnetic CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Someone Else CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Falling Forward CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Windows" CD/LP/Track Review Windows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Living In Twilight" CD/LP/Track Review Living In Twilight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Close Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Close Enough
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Shipwreck 4" CD/LP/Track Review Shipwreck 4
by John Sharpe
Published: August 16, 2016
Read "Boston, 1954" CD/LP/Track Review Boston, 1954
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 1, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.