Donald Byrd – Free From


Donald Byrd’s 1961 recording Free Form is both a smorgasboard of modern jazz styles and a breakthrough album showing the Detroit-born trumpeter’s versatility. Where his brass tone is very lean and toned, he does not resort to outlandish outbursts into the ionosphere, but shows a refined yet daring approach removed from his predecessors or peers, including Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan. With tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, a very young pianist Herbie Hancock, drummer Billy Higgins and bassist Butch Warren, Byrd tackles different flavors of jazz with a voracious appetite. W”Pentecostal Feelin’” comes straight from the Horace Silver bag, original funk with Shorter, Hancock, and Higgins head-noddin’ to the band. By contrast, “Nai Nai” is all straight-ahead hard bop. The more modal “French Spice” is still in the hard-to-post bop mold, but has a two-note base until the horns burst out in a rich melody. The title track represents the so-called “New Thing,” a tone row-based spontaneous improvisation where the band is purposefully set apart from the inventive drumming of Higgins. Romance is also on the menu via the no-frills ballad “Night Flower” as Byrd serenely leads the band into a curtain closing venture into tenderness. FREE FORM may be close to Donald Byrd’s best early work.


01. Pentacostal Feeling
02. Night Flower
03. Nai Nai
04. French Spice
05. Free From
06. Three Wishes

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