Donald Byrd (tp) Charlie Rouse (ts) Pepper Adams (bars) Walter Davis Jr. (p) Sam Jones (b) Art Taylor (d) Recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May 31, 1959
Two of my favourites saxophonists, Pepper Adams (bs) and Charlie Rouse (ts) join Donald Byrd on this early classic Blue Note outing from 1959. Byrd lends his name to yet another play on words,
Black Byrd in Flight Hand. Clearly he got fed up with the play on words, as subsequent releases are conspicuously short on ornithology references, so no Early Byrd, Byrd’s Nest, or Love-Byrd . Walter Davis Jr comping on piano.
The cover shot location is a rare view of the outside of Rudy Van Gelder studios. Today that location will be buried five feet deep under cigarette ends. Colour-toned black and white photography, something of a Blue Note trademark.
I became a convert to Pepper Adams on the strength of his playing on this record, having been convinced, until then, that I didn’t like baritone sax. Adams opened my ears to other baritone players like Sahib Shihab and Gerry Mulligan, confirming what I learned in other fields of life: every dislike narrows your field of potential enjoyment (except disliking Rap – the exception proving the rule).
Byrd ploughed a commercial furrow in the 1970’s with jazz funk and jazz rock, but his strongest playing remains in earlier decades.
Vinyl: BLP 4019 47W63 DG mono 1st press
The record sampled here is a first pressing DG on 47 West 63rd St labels, with the recently introduced registered and incorporation mark. At the time, it was the most expensive record I had bought. The sound can best be described as “ totally awesome“, a new phrase which I believe, in time, may well catch on. Especially with our friends in the New Colonies.