Donald Byrd: Byrd’s Word (1955) Savoy


Special message

Happy New Year to all LJC visitors. Congratulations on finding your way here. Special greetings to all my commentors –  without your contributions, there would be a fair bit less here to read. Hi also to all the lurkers: I know you are out there.  Lots more jazz on vinyl coming up in the year ahead. I hope you are all looking forward to it as much as I am. I for one can’t wait to hear what I am going to say.


On with the last post of 2012:

Selection: Winterset (Clarke)


Donald Byrd (t) Frank Foster (ts) Hank Jones (p) Paul Chambers (b) Kenny Clarke (d) NYC, September 29, 1955

The bass player is of course not “Dave Chambers” as named on the jacket and liner sidebar. “Dave” is “Paul”, What proof-reading. John, Paul, George and Bingo.

(Update! “Contractual obligations” the usual suspect – Hat-tip Bob D)


Jan recommended Byrd’s Word, and least I could do is spread his Word. My copy is one of those, comment ça se dit… “Made in France” records on the Savoy Musidisc label.

AllMusic review notes: “Before making his mark with several fine Blue Note albums… Donald Byrd got his start with several blowing dates for Savoy, Prestige, and a few other independents. This 1955 date for Savoy pitted Byrd with Basie alum and tenor saxophonist Frank Foster, pianist Hank Jones, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Kenny Clarke…While not on par with Byrd’s much more polished efforts for Blue Note, Byrd’s Word is fine for fans in the mood for some loose ’50s hard bop” And we’re in the mood for some Fifties hard bop, aren’t we jazzers?

The European cover a study in blue, no relation to the US original cover, which is rather fine too. (That would be “Dave” Chambers pictured there on bass)

US Savoy Byrds Word

Vinyl: Savoy Musidisc SA 6014 DG mono vinyl 175 gm

Barely legible hand-written matrix code MU 6014 A/B and the hand-inscribed initials “MP” on both sides, possibly an early reference to  MP3.




Collectors Corner

Purchased in France in a second-hand record shop, for fifteen euro as I recall. Had to wade through a mountain of French recording artists naturally, Sidney Bechet, Django, Stephane Grapelli, then mountains of Forties swing bands, then mountains of Serge Gainsbourg and girlie chanteuses, Eighties fusion and funk, Spyrogyra, David Sandborn, Yellowjackets..Just when all hope had gone, this little gem popped unexpectedly into my hands. Not the best shape but this was France: somewhere between  VG minus  and VG is the local equivalent, pas mal.

1955 – right there at the start of modern jazz. Whisky, cigarettes, sharp suits…  before certain other modern inventions came along…with unlimited texts and 500 free minutes…


1955’s….to 2013. What a journey.

UPDATE: October 23, 2014

In the interest of completeness on Byrd’s Word, here are the  Ebay Vinyl House UK Savoy pictures with the what I would call “oxblood” labels, and jacket, (with the sellers rather annoying vertical diagonal and horizontal perspective tilt taken out.



Sold for just short of £300. Crikey, that’s a lot.

Here is the other Savoy in bright red label livery, no frame around cover (thanks to Dottorjazz for sourcing pictures)

Byrds Word later cover 1800 LJCByrds-Word-later-red-label-1600-LJC

Nice picture, that’s the way to do it. The bright red is deep groove, the oxblood red is not. That must count for something.
(Last updated: November 6, 2016: photos)

19 thoughts on “Donald Byrd: Byrd’s Word (1955) Savoy

  1. Reading this was so very interesting. My problem is that the American copy I just found is still sealed. I will not open it to see the label color are there any other hints I should look for before this copy goes to auction on Ebay next week ?…….Thanks, Muzic

    • “Still sealed” is a mind-game, Americans seem to love it, snake oil.. What you want is “guaranteed unplayed, no spindle marks, seal opened only to establish provenance” See if they take the challenge. If they don’t its because they are looking for some gullible old fool to pay over the odds for the unknown. I prefer to know what I am getting.

  2. Rudolf
    on October 25, 2014 at 10:36 said:

    For completeness’ sake: when Savoy started the new sleeve wrapping system, the one leaving a white rim in front, the pressings became non DG. However in some cases the original first pressing blood labels (blood as per the definition of my late friend William “Red” Carraro, connoisseur par excellence of the Savoy label) were still used before switching over to oxblood (love this one Andrew, reminds me of my ages old brogues sold as oxblood).
    So the sequence is:
    1st DG blood, without sleeve rim;
    2nd Non DG blood, with sleeve rim;
    3rd Non DG oxblood, with sleeve rim.
    I have examples here but cannot send pictures since the photographer is travelling.

  3. A question for the Savoy experts. Was the original US pressing for Byrd’s Word on the very dark maroon color label (do a completed search for an auction sold by Vinyl House UK to see the color) or the regular red color label seen here (1A),T,U

    The Vinyl Beat site which is usually pretty accurate, doesn’t even show the deep maroon color label that the Vinyl House UK auction had.

    Cheers all.

      • I am a physician as well like our good friend Dottorjazz, the color of blood actually varies greatly depending on the oxygen content in it! It could be the color of my label and even as dark as the one in Vinyl House UK’s listing 🙂 both would be accurately called “blood” color.

        So I am still a bit confused. Going through Popsike most people that use the term “blood color label” are not showing a picture, but some mention the silver lettering. To add to my confusion the lettering on my copy and Vinyl House UK’s are both silver.

        I do not see a 1A on the label on my copy or on Vinyl House UK’s. The matrix info is identical to his, with the hand written RVG.

        I will take a picture of my label tomorrow without flash… for now the flash is throwing off the color balance.

        • at least two Doctors at the Jazz bed, good!
          this Savoy 12032 exists with two different covers.
          1) the one linked over here has a small white frame around the cover, a greenish tint and Savoy Records CO.,INC., Newark N.J. on back.
          2) another exists without the white frame, a sepia tint and Savoy Record CO., INC., 58 Market St., Newark N.J.
          This second copy has the bright red dg label.
          I’ve got pic of this.
          question: and the Oscar goes to?

  4. I just found your blog and it looks fantastic. I wasn’t aware of the French Savoy cover for this album, only the American version with Chambers and Byrd at the piano. If you’re interested, I have a daily jazz blog where I review a different record each day. There aren’t any uploads but some good links and I cover a lot of different material. I’m going to add your site to my blogroll.



  5. This is a lovely session and excellent hard bop – right up there with many Blue Note dates. I had this exact same pressing I bought in a Chicago music shop a few years ago and a fellow collector snagged it from me in trade and I missed it for a couple of years until I spotted a Japan pressing with the original cover this year! Cheapest way to get this music is the 80s Savoy reissue which retitled the LP “Long Green” with a fairly crappy cover design. Sounds great and can be had for $10 or less.

  6. Oh Bob, so downbeat! Do you really think the copyright lawyers wouldn’t have spotted an exrtra ‘E ‘in Wynton Kelly?

    But it’s New Year, so enjoy a glass of Champers and enjoy LJC’s uploaded music.


  7. Hi Andy:

    Just a minor note regarding the session credits on the cover.

    None of these “proof-reading” mistakes you see so often on Jazz and Blues releases from the ’50s and ’60s are actually errors or gaffes. They were pretty much deliberate. Remember, these people (jazz session men) were extraordinarily promiscuous, legally speaking and most of them cross-pollinated each other’s sessions as a matter of course. They would sign exclusive deal with label “X”, get some decent down payment, cash in, spend their money on wine, women and song (or, more accurately, on heroin, booze, cigars, women and song) and then, a few days later – when the cash ran out – they would be offered a session job from another artist “Y” or label “Z”. The problem? Exclusivity clause. The solution? Take a pseudonym. The new problem: if you take a pseudonym, nobody knows it is you, so your presence on the session becomes pointless. The new solution? Grab the silliest, most transparent, Ooops!-sorry-the-dumb-label–just-misspelled-my-name-on-the-cover pseudonym you can think of that even a retard can see through. That’s how Wynton Kelly became Wynton Kelley (or Wynt Kelly, or Wynt Kelley, depending on which label he was sleeping with at any given point), Sam Cooke became Sam Cook or Dale Cook, etcetera. Off the top of my head, I can think of probably 50 or so similar “mistakes”.

    There is a very interesting article on the subject here:

    Although the article lists only the distinctly opaque pseudonyms, those that are relatively unrecognizable. I reckon that “transparent” pseudonyms outnumber the “opaque” ones by a chunky margin.

    No, it’s not like people in American music business were illiterate. They were merely greedy and dishonest. Correction: They ARE merely greedy and dishonest.

    All the best, Andy — and Happy New Year to you and your bloggsters.


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