Selection: Dear Old Stockholm
Donald Byrd (t) Doug Watkins (b) Art Taylor (d) Bobby Jaspar (ts, fl) Walter Davis Junior (p) recorded l`Olympia Paris, 22 October, 1958
Feb 1958: “A 7,600 pound Mark 15 hydrogen bomb is lost in waters off Savannah, Georgia”. That is so Bob Newhart. We lost a bomb, Sir. A Hydrogen bomb. Yes that’s right, a nuclear Hydrogen bomb. No, we don’t know where it is. It’s lost. Does it work? Well, we haven’t actually tried it, but yes, mostly they do.
A great live set from the young Byrd which features Bobby Jaspar’s feisty tenor playing as well as his more familiar position behind the flute. One thing to note, the selected opening track Dear Old Stockholm begins with a slightly disconcerting sound of Byrd playing off in the distance, I confess giving rise to a degree of panic on first play: is this a dreadful bootleg recording? We have all heard those tinny early recordings, preserved for “historical interest”. Thankfully it is just a theatrical gesture at the start of the set, Byrd playing while walking slowly towards the microphone at the centre of the Olympia stage. Effective in the theatre, no doubt, but for a minute it had me worried.
It was around this time Blakey and his Messengers also recorded live concerts at the Olympia, Paris, in parallel to sessions at the Club St Germain. Both give you the audience interaction and the sense of live performance, but in the theatre setting you don’t also get the buzz of conversation and people calling the bartender for drinks, though some people prefer it I gather.
Recorded early in his musical career during a three month stay in Paris, one of several occasions Byrd spent time in France. A clue to Byrd’s French connections is suggested by his full birth name Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II. Sounds a little more French than “Don Byrd” and he looks like he might actually be reading Le Figaro. At least it’s the right way up. NBFA – Not bad for an American.
Vinyl: Brunswick – LPBM 87 903 pressed by Deutche-Gramaphon.
Originally released in 1958 in France as “Byrd in Paris” and in 1959 in Germany as “The “New” Donald Byrd Quintet” Brunswick – 87 903 LPBM. This is the German release. This recording and more tracks from Byrd’s 1958 Paris sessions are released on a two-volume CD, Parisian Thoroughfare, but not elsewhere available on vinyl. A great cover, a bonus for followers of the less-evil black disk.
The Brunswick label, a rather fine looking label, the only example I have. In early days, the Bruswick label was once a rival to Columbia and Victor, best known for the recordings of Bing Crosby on 78’s. Around the time of the Byrd recording it was part of American Decca stable under Coral Records, famed for artists like Buddy Holly and The Crickets. Brunswick appears here to be American Decca’s vehicle to get into Europe (and around UK Decca), using its partnership with classical music specialist Deutche Gramaphon for manufacture.The main business of all these labels seemed to be licensing shenanigans and litigation, with only a small sideline in releasing records
The liner notes consist of a rambling and unremarkable interview with Byrd by a French journalist, which adds very little of interest, and is extremely demanding on the eyesight.
VINYL IS GRADED VG NICE AND GLOSSY PAPER SCUFFS UNDER STRONG LIGHT PLAY TESTED AND SOUNDS GOOD. NO DISTORTION OR JUMPS.
How annoying is this sellers description? Just listen to that gloss man, its so ..err..glossy. And the record has no jumps. That’s a relief, I though for a moment it might jump about. A few paper scuffs under strong light though, must mention that in case you mistakenly thought it was mint. Ah, it “sounds good”. What the heck does that mean? How good? He forgot to mention From my personal collection (who elses?) rare hard to find in condition like this…(I found it, how hard was that?) talking up the value with stock collector phrases.
The seller’s hype was not going to distract me from the desirability of the record, and to bid for it anyway. I’m glad I did. This one’s welcome on my turntable any day. And I hate to admit it, but the vinyl is actually very, very glossy.