Trumpeter Donald Byrd has had one of the most eclectic careers in Jazz. His crisp, articulate and inventive style made him a regular sideman with John Coltrane in the 50s and a constant presence on Blue Note recordings of the 60s. His own musical endeavors have taken him from sizzling hard bop to hard R&B with the Blackbyrds. African, Gospel, Funk - it's all part of the same stew for this highly respected composer/performer/educator/activist. In this edition, George Lane looks at his Gospel Jazz hybrid classic, A New Perspective.
Trumpeter Donald Byrd has always been a pioneer in combining forms and expanding musical horizons. From his early days on several seminal John Coltrane recordings in the mid-50s to his groundbreaking R&B group, The Blackbyrds, Byrd has played music that is both extremely popular AND highly artistic.
On A New Perspective, Byrd presents a seamless blend of Jazz and Gospel, resulting in a beautiful hybrid that does justice to both forms, without sacrificing anything in the process.
Beautiful voices, excellent solos, terrific compositions and arrangements, and a powerful groove regardless of tempo combine to make this CD a delight from beginning to end.
Byrd wisely chose his collaborators for this late 1963 date. Duke Pearson's arrangements and Coleridge Perkinson's choral direction are both superlative, as are the sidemen.
Pianist Herbie Hancock, equally fluent in Funk and Jazz and everything else was the perfect choice here. Whether playing in the deep gospel groove of 'Elijah' or vamping mightily on the hard modal groover 'The Black Disciple,' Herbie sets the table for the soloist beautifully, and turns in some smokers himself.
Tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley is in a nice R&B-ish mode on all of his solos, especially on the very funky 'Elijah.' Guitarist Kenny Burrell shows why he was chosen for so many Funk Jazz sessions (especially those Jimmy Smith classics), in his bluesy twanged solos.
Donald Best's vibraharp adds a delicately floating touch throughout, and his solos are reminiscent of some of Johnny Lytle's funk-vibes classics. Bassist Butch Warren and drummer Lex Humphries provide excellent support.
But it's the complete package that makes this CD so special. The five original compositions provide excellent settings for this concept, with two by Pearson, 'Chant' and the enormously popular hit, 'Cristo Redentor,' a beautiful, stately piece. In addition to 'Elijah' and 'The Black Disciple,' Byrd also penned the slow blues, 'Beast of Burden.'
A beautiful and unusual recording that will please fans of both genres.