CHARLIE BYRD: BYRD AT THE GATE
CHARLIE BYRD TRIO & GUESTS
Charlie Byrd (g) Keter Betts (b) Bill Reichenbach (drs)
‘live’ at the Village Gate, NYC; May 9, 1963
Shiny Stockings (4:55)
Blues for Night People (7:08)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (2:59)
Where Are the Hebrew Children? (8:21)
Clark Terry (tp) Seldon Powell (ts) added
‘live’ at the Village Gate, NYC; May 10, 1963
Butter and Egg Man (3:40)
Ela Me Deizou (3:32)
Some Other Spring (4:14)
No matter what particular aspect of the performing arts or entertainment you happen to be interested in, you can always get a good conversation going by mentioning something about the evils of type-casting. Whether or not you agree that the practice is unfortunate, it should be admitted that a large part of the blame rests with the paying customer, who is often unhappy if his hero does something unexpected.
This not-especially-profound comment relates quite directly to the latest recording by guitarist Charlie Byrd. Byrd, and unusually gifted musician whose fame had for several years been limited by his own wish to stay in is home town of Washington, D.C., where he is in almost literal residence at the Showboat Lounge, found himself no longer a coterie favorite but an object of national recognition as a result of the bossa nova boom. Byrd was one of the earliest exponents of the Brazilian style and remains one of the foremost players of it. Quite possibly, his more recently acquired fabs night think him to be almost exclusive a bossa nova player. That would be a shame, for his original reputation rested on is advocacy of an untechniques with jazz, and his deep understanding of county blues.
A point on which you will get somewhat less argument than the issue of typecasting is the proposition that a recording made in a club or at a concert affords a better opportunity to hear the true talent and scope of a musician than the normal studio session. That point has been made so many times that there is no need to belabor it here, but it should come as no surprise to find that this Charlie Byrd LP, recorded on the stand at the Village Gate in New York, covers most of Byrd’s range of interests, of which bossa nova is only a part.
Some of this variety is merely good sense: a bossa nova LP can aim for a homogenous mood, and be more successful for doing so, but one bossa nova after another in a club is quite another matter, and might lead to a restless audience.
More of the variety is indirectly due to club owner Art D’Lugoff. A bill at his Village Gate is likely to assume the proportions of a miniature music festival, with all kinds of music mixed together to provide the widest range of interest. Thus, appearing on the same bill with the Byrd Trio were two of the finest musicians in New York. Clark Terry is the thoroughly individual ex-Ellington trumpeter and fluegelhorn player who has become a studio man, and in the last few years has made a praiseworthy second career out of adding spots of guaranteed brilliance to an incredible diversity of dates recorded in New York. Sledon Powell, slightly less well-known, is a formidably dependable pos-Lester Young tenor whose unerring taste gas bee a saving grace of many other albums.
Tenor and guitar is by now an accepted combination, made so in large part by Byrd’s collaboration with Stan Getz , but trumpet and guitar s gar more unusual, although no less successful here. Terry’s two feature numbers are Butter and Egg Man and Some Other Spring. They serve to indicate the range of his talent. The former is romping Dixieland warhorse, the latter one of the most poignant items from the repertoire of Billie Holiday. Bothe of Powell’s features are bossa novas, proving again how suitable the tenor-guitar combination is to the style. Ela Me Deixou, which can be translated She Has Left Me, is one of Charlie’s own tunes in the Brazilian vein, originally recorded on Riverside on his successful “Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros” album. More, the highly popular theme from the film “Mondo Cane,” shows again Byrd’s skill at finding non-bossa novas that will adapt to the style without strain. Both Terry and Powell join Byrd for Broadway, a perennial vehicle for all musicians who mourn the days of Count Basie and Lester Young.
The remaining four numbers are played by the trio alone, and provide a miniature survey of the variety of approaches of which Byrd is capable. Shiny Stockings is a staple from the Basie book of more recent vintage. Blues For Night People is a Byrd original, and a fine instance of his most basic guitar playing. I Left My Heart In San Francisco, originally known is he Tony Bennett version, but quickly recorded by several discerning singers and instrumentalists, is one of the newest authentic standards we have. And finally, there is Where Are the Hebrew Children, the latest in an impressive series of Byrd fantasias on spiritual and other folk songs.
The entire collections is one of the most completely representative of Charlie Byrd recitals, and certainly one of the most enjoyable. It shows again how diverse, how technically accomplished, how pleasurable he can be – and just about always is.
CHARLIE BYRD ‘s other Riverside albums include –
Once More !: Charlie Bossa Nova (454; stereo 9454)
Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (436; stereo 9436)
Byrd’s Word (448; stereo 9448)
Byrd in the Wind (449; stereo 9449)
Mr. Guitar (450; stereo 9450)
The Guitar Artistry of Charlie Byrd (451; Stereo 9451)
Charlie Byrd at The Village Vanguard (452; stereo 9452)
NOTE: all 9 titles also on M-47049
RM(S9)-467 “Byrd at the Gate”
Produced by Orrin Keepnews; recording Engineer: Ray Fowler & Dave Jones