At about the same time that Miles Davis’ crew was populating the jazz world with their revolutionary fusion-isms, trumpeter Donald Byrd had returned from a trip to Africa and undergone an artistic epiphany. His Afrocentric explorations resulted in a number of beautiful albums, including 1971′s Ethiopian Knights, which postdated his incomparable hard bop work with the likes of Sonny Rollins and Pepper Adams, and landed just before his renowned album Blackbyrd and later ventures into radio-friendly R&B.
Ethiopian Knights stretches into experimental Bitche Brew territory with rock and soul-jazz rhythms, electronic keyboards, elastic structures and a battery of African percussion. Byrd employs a stellar line-up of West Coast jazz funkateers for these sessions, including the Jazz Crusaders’ Joe Sample and Wilton Felder, and Bobby Hutcherson with members of his band. The vibe here is loose and organic, with full doses of driving funk. Ethiopian Knights fills in an important chapter in the Donald Byrd story and makes for funky good listening. (cduniverse)
Personnel: Donald Byrd (trumpet); Harold Land (tenor saxophone); Thurman Green (trombone); Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone); William Henderson III (acoustic & electric pianos); Joe Sample (organ); Don Peake, Greg Poree, David T. Walker (guitar); Wilton Felder (electric bass); Edward Greene (drums); Bobbye Porter Hall (congas, tambourine).
01. The Emperor
03. The Little Rasti