Charlie Byrd: Au Courant

Jim Santella By

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Growing up in rural Virgina, meeting and working with Django Reinhardt, studying with Andres Segovia, and recording jazz albums for over 40 years has given Charlie Byrd much to share with his audiences. The title of this album, meaning "up to date," reminds us that this timeless music we call Jazz never fails to lose its spark; especially in the hands of a trio like this one.

Byrd learned two of the songs on this album, "St. Louis Blues" and "There'll Be Some Changes Made," before he was ten years old. They sound as fresh today as they did then, only because the trio, with all its enthusiasm, improvises so well. As Byrd says in the liner notes, referring to the inclusion of six Rodgers & Hart selections on this album, "Their tunes are my idea of something good to blow on."

Using his familiar acoustic fingerstyle guitar technique, Byrd trades melodic passages with vibraphonist Chuck Redd, while his brother, Joe Byrd, supports with a walking bass pattern. The bassist solos briefly on "My Romance" and "St. Louis Blues" with lyrical charm. Using bossa and samba rhythms for "On A Clear Day," "There's A Small Hotel," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses," and Jobim's "If You Never Came To Me," the guitarist and vibraphonist trade choruses while Joe Byrd maintains the pace. "Avalon," performed at blinding speed, demonstrates the successful match that has been made over the years between vibes and bebop; the instrument allows itself to speak in the specific language of bop with ease and naturalness.

The ballads "My Romance," "Emily," and "Have You Met Miss Jones?" allow both acoustic string instruments to share their vocal-like qualities, as well. It's timeless Jazz from a trio of masters who have a lot to say and certainly do know how to say it; just right.

Track Listing: This Can't Be Love; My Romance; St. Louis Blues; On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever); There'll Be Some Changes Made; If You Never Came To Me; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Avalon; Emily; There's A Small Hotel; Blue Room; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Willow Weep For Me; Days of Wine and Roses.

Title: Au Courant | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


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