224

The Eric Byrd Trio + 4: Brother Ray

By

Sign in to view read count
The Eric Byrd Trio + 4: Brother Ray Pianist/vocalist Eric Byrd leads a busy musical life with his group, working out of the Washington, D.C. area and representing the United States as a jazz ambassador at The Kennedy Center, as well as in South and Central American nations.

With the release of Maceo Parker's tribute to Ray Charles Roots and Grooves (Heads Up, 2007) one would wonder just how much closer anyone could get to replicating the spirit of Charles. Parker not only plays but sings in a vital manner that is very close the late Charles' persona.

Byrd has several things working for him. His trio is augmented by four horns in order to duplicate Charles' classic Atlantic sound during the 1950s; and Byrd, himself, provides the arrangements that are an essential part of this album. Beginning with the classic Theard/Moore tune, "Let the Good Times Roll," which first became a signatory tune for Louis Jordan and then in 1960 for Charles, Byrd uses it as a springboard to establish the rollicking groove, and to introduce the horns by having each take a brief solo. Tenor saxophonist Paul Carr, signaled out on his own Musically Yours (PCJE, 2008), provides a wonderfully distilled solo. In addition, trumpeter Brad Clements, altoist Lyle Link and baritone saxman Chris Watling do more than a fair job of conjuring up the spirit of David "Fathead" Newman, Hank Crawford, Marcus Belgrave and Leroy Cooper. Link's simpatico flute work on a few tunes is strongly redolent of "Fathead.."

As a pianist, Byrd is quite effective in this setting. On the mid-tempo "Them That Got," from the Charles songbook, and Alfred's "I've Got News for You," Byrd nails the blues accompaniment, giving the impression that Junior Mance or Ray Bryamt had sneaked into the studio.

As a vocalist, Byrd is an entirely different matter. While Maceo Parker emulates Ray Charles to a tee, Byrd is not an impressionist. His vocal range is naturally higher and his delivery is that of a sweet albeit very soulful vocalist. Yet when he sings Titus Turner's "Get on the Right Track Baby," a vintage mid-1950s Charles staple (and one that has rarely been included on Charles tributes), his vocal is perfect for the setting.

On other tunes like Joe Greene's "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" and Warfield/Williams' "Baby Won't You Please Come Home," the vocal is effective but in no way specifically linked to any Ray Charles version. For the classic Johnny Mercer song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Byrd's duet with Lea Gilmore misses the sugar and vinegar style of Betty Carter and Ray Charles, though on any other album, it would be fine. Gilmore is also featured on the lesser-known "Watch Them Dogs," a full-tilt Charles presentation.


Track Listing: Let The Good Times Roll; Them That Got; Come Rain Or Come Shine; I've Got News For You; Get On The Right Track Baby; Baby It's Cold Outside; Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying; I Want A Little Girl; Watch Them Dogs; Baby Won't You Please Come Home; You Don't Know Me.

Personnel: Eric Byrd: piano, vocals; Bhagwan Khalsa: bass; Alphonso Young, Jr.: drums; Brad Clements: trumpet; Lyle Link: alto saxophone; Paul Carr: tenor saxophone; Chris Watling: baritone saxophone; Lea Gilmore: vocals; Frank McCreary: vocals.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Earth Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Earth Tones
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 5, 2016
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke" CD/LP/Track Review A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 6, 2016
Read "Whisper" CD/LP/Track Review Whisper
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 22, 2016
Read "In Tokyo, Japan" CD/LP/Track Review In Tokyo, Japan
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!