Donald Byrd – Electric Byrd

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  • Incredible sound throughout for this later Blue Note pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both of these sides are clean, clear and natural sounding with a lovely bottom end and lots of space around all of the players
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 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… indisputably challenging, high-quality fusion.” – 4 1/2 Stars

A TOP PRESSING of what we consider to be one of the best later Blue Note titles, both sonically and musically! This 1970 Donald Byrd album is one of the best jazz-fusion albums we know of, and this copy boasts DEMO QUALITY SOUND. Old-school jazz purists may turn their nose, but if you’re a fan of late ’60s / early ’70s Miles Davis this one is right up your alley. The sound is nothing short of stunning.

I would take this album over Bitches Brew any day of the week. There are a lot of good things about that Miles Davis album, but this is one that I could just sit and listen to over and over again and not feel like I’m missing something. Byrd and his crew are in similar territory here, but they take it in interesting directions without the music ever feeling forced or academic. This isn’t experimentation for the sake of experimentation, it’s bold, wonderful jazz music that isn’t afraid to enter the 1970s. We’ve played a bunch of these and most of them couldn’t hold a candle to this one. The sound is big, open and three-dimensional with incredible presence. The trumpet and percussion (played by the great Airto, how about that?) sound amazing, but I don’t think you could pick out an instrument that doesn’t sound just right here.

If you’re ready to take a mindblowing jazz fusion trip with sonics to match, you should definitely check this one out. Highly recommended!

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Electric Byrd

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side Two

Xibaba
The Dude

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

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. Byrd leads his largest fusion group yet (ten to 11 pieces), featuring many of his cohorts of the time (including Jerry Dodgion, Lew Tabackin, and Frank Foster on various woodwinds). Most important are electric pianist Duke Pearson, who once again dominates the arrangements, and percussionist Airto Moreira, who in places lends a strong Brazilian feel that predates Return to Forever.

The Brazilian-tinged opener “Estavanico” has a gentle, drifting quality that’s often disrupted by jarring dissonances. There’s also the shifting — and sometimes even disappearing — slow groove of “Essence,” and the hard-edged, bop-based funk of “The Dude.” Much of the album has a spacy, floating feel indebted to the psychedelic fusion of Bitches Brew; it’s full of open-ended solo improvisations, loads of amplification effects, and striking sonic textures. 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.