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LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Audio CD, Import, Limited Edition, November 27, 2012
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One of Blue Note's best-selling albums of all time, Black Byrd - a celebrated jazz funk release - will be reissued as part of an overall Blue Note 75th anniversary vinyl reissue campaign spearheaded by current Blue Note Records President, Don Was.
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The ‘best of the best’ all begins with the expected inclusion of a danceable, funky number that became a Blue Note records trademark on many albums after trumpeter Lee Morgan struck it big in the sales and popularity of his hit song, “Sidewinder”: except here there are two funky songs, Red’s “Beale Street” with some fabulous Mobley sax work and the Byrd composition and album ‘theme song’ “Blackjack” featuring emotional solos from Mobley, Byrd, and especially the bluesy piano of Walton and the yearning alto sax of Red, which builds around his exposition of 5 very-effective, declarative notes. Red’s composition, “Loki”, is an up-tempo, bare-bones blues created partially of spare, two-note, strategically placed, unison riffs that become quite a springboard for some energetic soloing, especially Red who continues to impress on this session and deserved more attention from the jazz public. Also note the joyful, assertive drumming by Higgins throughout, such as here when he backs Mobley on Hank’s excellent, dazzling solo. The performance of the session is the scintillating performance of “West of the Pecos”, another sketchy Byrd original with strategically-placed staccato phases for the main theme with long breaks throughout the performance that are vehicles for Byrd expositions in addition to his main solo. Mobley, Red, and Walton shine in their chord extrapolations. This is a wonderful session by trumpet master Donald Byrd and his acclaimed musical colleagues. My Highest Recommendation. Five CLASSIC Stars. (Blue Note records. 7-remastered MP3 tracks. Total time-40:36)