Articles | Popular | Future

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd: Ethiopian Knights

Read "Ethiopian Knights" reviewed by Chris May

Donald Byrd (1932-2013) was a solid and dependable and prolifically recorded hard-bop trumpeter during the style's mid 1950s to mid 1960s heyday, though he was never an innovator, far less an auteur. He later went on to make a string of tedious disco-cum-jazz-funk albums which sold by the truckload. On the cusp of this shift in trajectory, Byrd made a handful of unassailable groove-jazz classics. Ethiopian Knights is the best of them. Such is the enduring demand for ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Donald Byrd: A New Perspective - 1963

Read "Donald Byrd: A New Perspective - 1963" reviewed by Marc Davis

A New Perspective is unlike any jazz album you've heard before--and the change is refreshing. The biggest difference? Voices--singers, but not jazz singers. A New Perspective includes a seven-voice gospel choir, singing wordless syllables. Not scat, but pure notes. At first, the choir feels wrong. The very first notes of this 1963 album are voices. They start with a powerful gospel feel, but then quickly change to a more pop-ish, happy-happy 1960s mode. It's jarring and ...

REASSESSING

Donald Byrd: Slow Drag

Read "Donald Byrd: Slow Drag" reviewed by Greg Simmons

Donald ByrdSlow DragBlue Note2011 (1967) In 1967 trumpeter Donald Byrd was a busy guy, teaching or lecturing at no fewer than four universities. It's a wonder he had time to play, let alone record. Fortunately, he did find the time, and the resulting Slow Drag takes an honorable place in his catalog. The album features Byrd's working unit, fresh off a stint at New York's Five Spot Café. It's ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Donald Byrd: Off To The Races

Read "Donald Byrd: Off To The Races" reviewed by John Barron

Donald Byrd Off To The Races Blue Note Records 2006 (1959)

Detroit was producing a lot more than cars in the 1950s: the city was a breeding ground for an impressive number of hard bop giants. Two of the most dynamic instrumentalists to trek eastward from Motown to the Big Apple were trumpeter Donald Byrd and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, leader and featured sideman respectively on Off To The Races.

Off To ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Donald Byrd: Royal Flush

Read "Donald Byrd: Royal Flush" reviewed by Samuel Chell

Donald Byrd Royal Flush Blue Note 2006

One of a handful of Rudy Van Gelder remasters released this past August, Royal Flush would be welcome if only because it's the recording debut of Herbie Hancock. Looking all of fourteen in the photo included with the accompanying booklet (he was 21 at the time), Hancock plays like a seasoned pro on what was, in fact, his actual “maiden voyage." Even apart from the pianist's brilliant ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd Quartet featuring Bobby Jaspar: Au Chat Qui Peche 1958

Read "Au Chat Qui Peche 1958" reviewed by Samuel Chell

Were you to ask trumpeter Donald Byrd what moment in his career he would most like to relive, it would not be surprising if he selected the period documented on this recording. It was the late summer of 1958, and Byrd and his quartet had settled in for an extended gig, including practically carte blanche musical freedom, at a Parisian Left Bank jazz cave called Au Chat Qui Peche. On most occasions the quartet was augmented by the Belgian tenor ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd: Fuego

Read "Fuego" reviewed by Russ Musto

The role played by Donald Byrd in the development of hard bop is often unfairly overlooked these days--as if the trumpeter's '70s forays into more commercial territory justifies expunging his earlier contributions from its history. Fuego, Byrd's third date for Blue Note, finds him at his very best, in the familiar company of altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Duke Pearson, bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Lex Humphries. Recorded in October 1959, the record reflects the contemporaneous influences of two of Byrd's ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd: Donald Byrd: Electric Byrd

Read "Donald Byrd: Electric Byrd" reviewed by John Ballon

Considered by some to be trumpeter Donald Byrd's last worthwhile jazz recording, Electric Byrd is a high-flying relic from 1970. This album can be understood as Byrd's formidable response to the musical challenges set down by trumpet-rival Miles Davis with his epic Bitches Brew recordings from a year earlier. Clearly Miles is the ghost presence here, with distinct echoes of his sound permeating the vibe of this exploratory set. Byrd demonstrates on his three originals that he, too, was a ...

MUST HEAR REVIEW

Donald Byrd: Kofi

Read "Donald Byrd: Kofi" reviewed by John Ballon

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, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd: Byrd in Hand (RVG Edition)

Read "Byrd in Hand (RVG Edition)" reviewed by Robert Gilbert

Of the jazz trumpeters who blazed a trail during the 1950s and '60s, Donald Byrd has never really gotten his due. He came into his own at the same time as Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Kenny Dorham, etc. were on the scene, unjustly diverting some attention away from Byrd. Yet a listen to a small part of his recorded output reveals a trumpeter with a well-developed penchant for lyricism and who, over time, learned to use space as ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd & Pepper Adams: Motor City Scene

Read "Motor City Scene" reviewed by David A. Orthmann

A reissue of a session originally released in 1961, Motor City Scene is an excellent example of the wealth of talent in the Detroit area during the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Co-led by trumpeter Donald Byrd and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, the cast includes a veritable who’s who of jazzmen on their respective instruments: pianist Tommy Flanagan, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers, and the drums of Louis Hayes.

The opening cut, Hoagy Carmichael’s ballad “Star Dust,” is music to ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams: The Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Studio Sessions

Read "The Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Studio Sessions" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

There was a time when Donald Byrd probably spent as much time out at Rudy Van Gelder's house in Hackensack recording sessions as he did in the clubs performing for live audiences. From the early part of the '50s on, Byrd was a busy man, appearing on scores of records for Savoy, Prestige, and Blue Note. And with youth on his side, Byrd was capable of delivering the goods day after day and night after night with a brassy tone ...


Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.