CHARLIE BYRD TRIO AND WOODWINDS: BYRD IN THE WIND
Charlie Byrd Trio: Charlie Byrd (unamplified guitar) Keter Betts (b) Bertell Knox (drs) with Buck Hill (ts) Charlie Schneer (p) Wallace Mann (fl) Richard White (oboe) Kenneth Pasmanick (bassoon) Ginny Byrd (vcl)
On Swing and You’re a Sweetheart:
The Charlie Byrd Trio plus Woodwinds (White, Mann, Pasmanick)
Love Letters and Wait Till You See Her are by Byrd and the three woodwinds.
You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to and Cross Your Heart are sung by Ginny Byrd, with Charlie Byrd
You Came a Long Way from St. Louis and Georgia on My Mind are by Ginny Byrd and The Trio, plus Schneer on piano.
Showboat Shuffle and Keter’s Dirty Blues are by The Trio plus Buck Hill on tenor sax.
On Copacabana, Schneer is added.
Stars Fell on Alabama is an unaccompanied guitar solo.
Swing (3:16) (Charlie Byrd)
You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to (2:46) (Cole Porter)
showboat Shuffle (3:53) (Charlie Byrd)
Love Letters (2:58) (Heyman-Young)
Cross Your Heart (2:14) (DeSylva-Gensler)
Keter’s Dirty Blues (4:10) (Keter Betts)
You’re a Sweetheart (2:30) (McHugh-Adamson)
Stars Fell on Alabama (3:14) (Perkins-Parish)
You Came a Long Way from St. Louis (3:25) (Russell-Brooks)
Wait Till You See Her (2:48) (Rodgers & Hart)
Georgia on My Mind (3:07) (Carmichel-Gorrell)
Copacabana (2:53) (DeBarro-Ribeiro-Stillman)
For a musician who doesn’t live in New York, Charlie Byrd is a much recorded and talked about personality. It is generally assumed that for a musician to be successful nowadays he must live in or near New York City for the double potential of a job and/or record date. In this respect, Charlie practically goes out of his way to avoid the musical Mecca. For the past dozen years, he has lived here in the Nation’s Capital, working and studying. In recent years he has become the best known musician in the whole Washington area, and more recently his fame has become nationwide. Talent and good sense are the two obvious things that Charlie has, if someone were to ask me.
I’ve known Charlie for several years now and I’d like to pass along a few observations. One night about decade ago I walked into a tavern to kill some time, because spasmodically they had some live music. This night Charlie was on hand. He sang and played electric guitar and – as it turned out – wit the exception of the jukebox he presented the only music. It wasn’t earthshaking, but it was fun! That same night I had my first conversation with Charlie. I remember being surprised to learn that he was studying classical guitar and had a recital coming up in a few weeks. I never made the recital, but I did drop back often to say hello. Off and on we would bump into each other, and after a few pleasantries and the usual “what’s new” nothing much was happening. Then Charlie got the chance to go to Italy, in the Summer of 1954, to study with Andres Segovia. After his return, there was no such thing as a regular job. It was still a case of a night here and a night there, studying and teaching. But by now, all the musicians in town were talking about him.
In 1957, Station WMAL, my employer, decided that it might be a good idea to present some live music on TV. They had auditioned one group but decided to drop the project. Then, I had a chance to work on the possibility of having a show with Charlie Byrd as the main musical attraction, playing both jazz and classics. Jazz on TV in 1957 was somewhat suspect, so it took several moths of discussion before WMAL-TV decided that his addition to their schedule would be good one. In January 1958, the show finally went on the air on Sunday nights late and was known as “Nightcap.” ON it you would find the Charlie Byrd Trio, plus the songs of either Ginny Byrd or Ann Read. Your writer was host. Eventually, the show was moved to an earlier time on Saturday nights and thereafter was called “Jazz Recital.” This show ran for 40 weeks, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best Jazz shows ever on TV. It was a rare combination of well-played jazz and classics and there wasn’t a fake frill on the whole show. WMAL said that they received more favorable comments on this program than any other they had put on in a long time. It can be said in tribute to Charlie that his talent and good sense always prevailed in this series. The reason I go into length about this TV show is that I believe it had a great deal to do with the initial acceptance of Charlie Byrd in the Washington area. All the while, Charlie was appearing at Pete Lambros’ “Showboart” Lounge here. This is one of the few clubs in the country presenting, in one evening, a combination of jazz and classics – both being well accepted by the public. Pete Lambros believes people come to his club to hear music, and he goes to great length to see that it is presented in the best possible manner. It is a small room, seating no more than 80 at a time, and yet any night in the week you stop by you will find people standing on the stairs waiting to get in to hear Charlie Byrd.
There was a Sunday concert one summer in which the Basie Band was featured. To follow this band would be a difficult chore for anyone, yet when the Charlie Byrd Trio had finished their twenty minutes the crowd was as enthusiastic for Byrd for Basie. The Count and members of the band, having heard the Byrd group for the first time, remarked that “The Trio was sensational.” In the same location some months later Stan Kenton heard the group, Stan said “this is the first time I have ever heard of Charlie Byrd, and now I feel like asking for Charlie’s autograph.”
About the music in this collection, I’ll make no attempt to run down the whole list of songs for I feel certain you will be playing everything in this set and will enjoy all of it. Of particular interest, I believe, are those numbers featuring woodwinds – flute, oboe, and bassoon – all played, incidentally, by regular members of the national Symphony Orchestra. Byrd arranged all the songs, then asked Dick Harrison to add the parts for the two using winds and guitar. According to Charlie, dick is one of the very few arrangers who knows and understands the classical guitar. Ginny Byrd sings four of the songs. She sings them with great naturalness and feeling. A couple you’ve heard many times before, but you’re in for a kick when you listen to the Byrd treatment. Then there are a couple of originals, as you might expect, notably Keter’s Dirty Blues. Keter Betts is the bass player so this gives you a clue. The rest of the group includes Bertell Knox, drums; Charlie Schneer, piano; and Buck Hill, tenor. All of these fellows get along fabulously well, enjoying not only each other’s work, but the friendship that has developed over the years.
From what I’ve said here about Charlie, you might imagined that he’s a human dynamo, but actually the reverse is true. He is slightly built, quiet, and unassuming with a wonderful droll sense of humor. His one main gripe these days is that he can’t seem to get enough time off to go fishing. One of his main likes, too, is to sing blues songs, being a little partial to some of the efforts of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Jimmy Rushing. No, he doesn’t sing on this set, but you can never tell what he might do the next time around.
I am in complete agreement with Charlie’s attitude concerning music. He says that if you can’t make it in two choruses, get out! And I’m afraid I’m running over …
WMAL., Washington D.C.
Byrd’s other Riverside albums include –
Once More!: Charlie Byrd’s Bossa Nova (454, Stereo 9454)
Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (436; Stereo 9436)
Lain Impressions (427: Stereo 9427)
Byrd’s Word (448; Stereo 9448)
Mr. Guitar (450; Stereo 9450)
The Guitar Artistry of Charlie Byrd (451; Stereo 9451)
Charlie Byrd at the Village Vanguard (452: Stereo 9452)
Blues Sonata (453: Stereo 9453)
This recording is available in both Stereophonic (RS 9449) and Monaural (RM 449) form.
Recorded at Edgewood Recording Studio; Washington, D.C.
Album design: KEN DEARDOFF
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street, New York City 36, New York