Donald Byrd - Black Byrd

Donald Byrd was branded a traitor and sellout when he released “Black Byrd” in 1973, his complete dive into R&B ended up erupting into a popular phenomenon, leaving behind his hard bop sound the album went on to become the biggest-selling album for the Blue Note record label. This was actually the moment when Byrd’s style of fusion stepped out from under the shadow of his chief influencer, Miles Davis, finding a distinctive voice all of his own. At this time no other jazz musician embraced the celebratory contemporary funky sound as fully as Byrd did on this top selling album. Byrd gave free rein to producer, arranger, and composer Larry Mizell, who crafted this series of melodic pieces often indebted to the lengthier orchestrations of Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield. Released on both stereo and quadrophonic vinyl back in the day, Michael J. Dutton has gone back to the original analog masters to create this magnificent transfer to Quad SACD which also includes a stereo layer.

The album is chalk full of straightforward funk rhythms, a tighter sound compared to his earlier looser and complex fusion material. The simplicity makes up for it through the funky grooves that are nearly irresistible blended with melodic solos and held down by the funk. Sure, you may think the electric piano, sound effects, and Roger Glenn's ubiquitous flute date the music somewhat, but don’t you think that is essentially part of its charm? Black Byrd was actually state-of-the-art for its time, setting a new standard for all future jazz-fusion releases. This is a must have for all fans of fusion, R&B, contemporary jazz, and quadroholics.

 

Hybrid SACD with Quad and Stereo layers.

 

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