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Off to the Races Original recording remastered

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, September 12, 2006
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 12, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000HC2PCC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,667 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Lover Come Back To Me
2. When Your Love Has Gone
3. Sudwest Funk
4. Paul's Pal
5. Off To The Races
6. Down Tempo

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brad Richman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 12, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Among the 12 recent Blue Note RVG reissues, two are albums by Donald Byrd featuring Pepper Adams, "Royal Flush" (see my review) and this title "Off to the Races." (The trumpeter and the bari-saxophonist do make glorious music together, and all of their non-live sessions have been available for some time in the 6CD Mosaic set "The Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Studio Sessions.") This December 21, 1958 session is Byrd's first as a leader for Blue Note, and he is joined additionally by Jackie McLean on alto sax, and the formidable rhythm trio of Wynton Kelly on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Art Taylor on drums. The material here is very similar to that on "Byrd in Hand" (see my review) -- straight ahead hard bop with excellent front-line interplay. However, I would think the general jazz public would rather have "Chant" or "The Cat Walk" re-released, instead of this above average blowing session. But at the rate that Donald Byrd titles are coming out lately, maybe we'll see them too shortly. And for now, enjoy the start of Byrd's long Blue Note race.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jack Baker on May 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Over the course of the past couple months, Donald Byrd has slowly supplanted Freddie Hubbard as my favorite trumpet player. Byrd has such a great combination of lyricism and a full, rich tone and it's shown off to great effect on Off to the Races, Byrd's first date as a leader on Blue Note (although he had led sessions on other labels prior to this). Byrd is joined by Jackie McLean (alto sax), Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Art Taylor (drums).

Byrd is one of the most underrated composers in jazz in my opinion (See his fabulous "Tanya" on Dexter's One Flight Up). He composed all but two of the pieces on this album, the exceptions being the standard "Lover Come Back to Me", given a quick bop treatment here, and Sonny Rollins's "Paul's Pal's", another great tune that'll follow you around for days. "Sudwest Funk" is true to its billing, a deep, funky blues with a great central riff, given weight by the three horn interplay. "When Your Love Has Gone" is a stunning ballad with Byrd as the solo horn. Wynton Kelly is outstanding on this track, providing subtle shading to back Byrd's soulful trumpet lines. "Off to the Races" is an extended blues march that kicks off with a great drum into from Taylor before moving into another heavy unison horn riff. The length of the piece allows all the players to show off their skills. Finally, "Down Tempo" is a bluesy piece highlighted by some funky piano work from Kelly and some tight bass from Jones. Greasy.

This is one of those great albums like Mobley's
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Landsberg VINE VOICE on May 6, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Frankly speaking (maybe someone can enlighten me), the comparison of Byrd as a trumpeter to Clifford Brown baffles me... however, I can definitely see comparing him to any of the greats as a bandleader, because his ensembles were definitely crack tight and full talent (be it via the bebop, hard bop or soul Jazz era.) - - If anything Byrd reminds me a lot of Oliver Nelson... Nelson wrote and arranged great tunes, put together at least one of the greatest Jazz albums of all time and recorded many other greats... but as a sax player, I wouldn't quite say he blew me away at all times. - - The same, in my argument is true of Byrd... clearly a rich enough conceptualist to inspire great ensembles, great session man but when trying to blow high tempo bop (such as Lover Come Back To Me) often flubbed notes painfully, despite streams of great ideas (ideas that he probably hipped his band members too as a professor.) In contrast though, he is at his peak on ballads and tunes that swing but aren't over the top tempo wise (Like Miles Davis, Byrd understood space... sometimes followed in his lead... yet seemed to try hard to stand his own ground - - personally speaking, I'm more into Byrd visa vis all his eras than Davis... Should any of the Jazz Police be reading this, feel free to whine.) - - That said, even when Byrd was flubbing his keister off, ideas flowed in ways none of the "technical perfectionist school" trumpeters ever could, and like a lot of great boxers, even though he may not have landed every punch, when he did, you best better have been grateful that it was a bandstand not a boxing ring, otherwise, you'd have been out for the count.

So we discuss Off To The Races... The presence of Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones and Art Taylor go without saying...
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Format: Audio CD
I've got most of Byrd's early albums, including his recordings with Blakey/Silver on both Columbia and a tiny ephemeral Boston label, "Transition." Although not approaching the brilliance of Clifford Brown (who does?), Byrd appeared on the tough, competitive NYC scene shortly after the loss of Clifford and was instantly greeted as if her were the champ's successor. However, Clifford's fast and clean, pyrotechnical and dazzling trumpet artistry was not Byrd's game. To his credit this Detroit preacher's son worked long and hard on breathing and phrasing, more than compensating for any technical shortfalls with his warm tone, breathless phrasing, and reliability as a strong soloist and unselfish, reliable ensemble player. He was, in short, the Hank Mobley of the trumpet. And like Hank, he was more "in demand" than any other player of his respective horn during the years, 1955-1965. Simply nobody made more recordings than Byrd or Mobley, and the supreme pleasure was to hear them performing together.

On "Off to the Races" Byrd is showing a fiery, technical facility on the horn placing him closer to Clifford's wizardry (or the playing of Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard) than listeners might infer from the "prettier," melodic and inventive Byrd. The title is certainly no misnomer as he proves on the title tune as well as the even faster tempo of "Lover Come Back to Me." He may not articulate as cleanly as Clifford, but he's equally accurate while showing a similar amount of aggressive fire.

His two frontline partners are two of the most uncompromising hard-boppers in music--the fast and fearless, "note-shredding" baritone sax of Pepper Adams and the acidic, "sour-sounding" alto saxophone of Jackie McClean.
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