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Donald Byrd: Kofi

John Ballon By

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An album of previously unreleased material taken from two 1969-1970 sessions which capture the immensely talented trumpeter Donald Byrd in a transitional moment of artistic brilliance. The first two tracks, "Kofi" and "Fufu," were both recorded during the 1969 session, and are the most original and imaginative compositions on the album. Rooted in the hypnotic African-infused rhythms of drummer Mickey Roker, bassist Ron Carter, and percussionists Airto and Dom Um Romao, these two tracks synthesize the modal, electric, hard bop, and funk strains of late 60s jazz. On "Kofi," Lew Tabackin's flute swirls freely above the thickly layered grooves and complex horn arrangements. Frank Foster plays with authority on "Fufu." Byrd's playing on Kofi shows the influence of his vastly superior rival, Miles Davis. Still, his own distinct sound shines through, as he plays with great fluidity and style. With these recordings, Byrd was on the verge of his total fusion commercialization, but he hadn't sold out yet. The last three tracks (all recorded in 1970) are moody electric grooves that fit strongly within the realm of acid-jazz. Atmospheric, tribal, and funky, Kofi is a unique and compelling album. Pick it up before it goes out-of-print.

Tracks

1. Kofi (9:30)

2. Fufu (9:45)

3. Perpetual Love (8:00)

4. Elmina (8:30)

5. The Loud Minority (10:00)

Players:

Donald Byrd: Trumpet

Lew Tabackin: Flute, Tenor Sax

Frank Foster: Tenor Sax

Duke Pearson: Electric Piano

Wally Richardson: Guitar

Ron Carter: Bass

Mickey Roker: Drums

Airto: Percussion

Dom Um Romao: Percussion

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This review first appeared at MustHear.com .


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