Track selection: Donald Byrd “Requiem” (Herbie Hancock)
Donald Byrd (tp) Pepper Adams (bs) Herbie Hancock (p) Butch Warren (b) Billy Higgins (d) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, September 21, 1961
Notable as the recording debut of Herbie Hancock, age 21, recent college graduate, stepping into the shoes of his predecessor, Duke Pearson.
The selection “Requiem” is a mid-tempo gospel-inflected piano blues written by Hancock, with Byrd and Pepper providing the underpinning plaintive melodic lines, allowing Hancock to develop the musical space. It concludes the adventure with a Butch Warren bowed bass solo.
The great thing about “Royal Flush” is how these seasoned players work together with the young Hancock. Byrd acts with great subtlety as leader, in the true sense of leadership – getting the best out of his fellow musicians.
In the absence of an orignal pressing the record is a humble japanese reissue from EMI-Toshiba. The usual fine Japanese silent pressing with full dynamic range, if tad less open and inviting than pressings by the all-time masters, King Record Company. Ready for replacement by an original press from Blue Note, perhaps some day, this one is worth seeking out.