Donald Byrd’s transitional sessions from 1969-1971 are actually some of the trumpeter’s most intriguing work, balancing accessible, funky, Davis-style fusion with legitimate jazz improvisation. Electric Byrd, from 1970, is the best of the bunch, as Byrd absorbs the innovations of Bitches Brew and comes up with one of his most consistent fusion sets of any flavor. The arrangements are continually surprising, and the band never works the same groove too long, switching or completely dropping the underlying rhythms. So even if it wears its influences on its sleeve, Electric Byrd is indisputably challenging, high-quality fusion. It’s also the end of the line for jazz purists as far as Donald Byrd is concerned, which is perhaps part of the reason the album has yet to receive its proper due.
Personnel: Donald Byrd (trumpet); Wally Richardson (guitar); Lew Tabackin (flute, saxophone, tenor saxophone); Hermeto Pascoal (flute); Pepper Adams (clarinet, baritone saxophone, brass); Frank Foster (alto clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Bill Campbell (trombone); Duke Pearson (electric piano); Mickey Roker (drums); Airto Moreira (percussion).
04. The Dude