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Byrd Is The Word

12 JUL 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI

Classically trained and steeped in the blues, Charlie Byrd was the ultimate jazz guitarist. Byrd's Word! was one of his first releases as a leader, a scrapbook of the guitarist both acoustic and electric, snapshots captured in different ensembles, some even featuring trombone and bassoon. Originally recorded and released in 1955, Byrd's Word! was re-released on CD in 2000 (OJC) and remains available in Concord's digital catalog.

Byrd's electric solo in the title track glows with a cool yet warm tone that seems to effortlessly link the frameworks of Charlie Christian and Pat Metheny. From the acoustic side, "Satin Doll" shimmers with the sound for which Byrd is most remembered, a tasteful trio stroll through classic Ellington. This rendition of "What's New" left little doubt that Byrd was already a musician of impeccable technique and taste, even this early in his career. Two duets (also on acoustic) with his wife Ginny singing "Blue Turning Grey Over You" and "Don't Explain" solidly swing.

One thing notable by its absence is any trace of Brazil, whose exotic musical landscape Byrd would begin to explore within the next few years, in the company of Stan Getz and others, and continue to discover throughout his career. See, for example, Plays Jobim (2002) and Homage To Jobim Live At The Fujitsu-Concord 26th Jazz Festival ('05, both Concord Picante). In addition to his longstanding solo career, Byrd was also a member of the trio The Great Guitars with Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis.

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