Charlie Byrd – Brazilian Byrd

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  • Brazilian Byrd makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Big, balanced, lively and musical, these two sides had the best sound we heard in our most recent shootout
  • 4 stars: “Acoustic guitarist Charlie Byrd always had a strong affinity for Brazilian jazz, and he sticks exclusively to Antonio Carlos Jobim songs (including ‘Só Danço Samba,’ ‘Corcovado,’ ‘Dindi,’ and ‘The Girl from Ipanema’) during this tasteful and melodic effort. Truly beautiful music.”

This vintage Columbia 360 Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Brazilian Byrd 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 1965
  • 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 space of the studio

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.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Brazilian 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 common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The guitar isn’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Corcovado
Jazz ‘n’ Samba (So Danco Samba)
That Look You Wear (Êste Seu Olhar)
The Girl From Ipanema
Samba Do Aviao (From “Copacabama Palace”)
Engano

Side Two

Amor E Paz
Dindi
Canção do Amor Demais
As Praias Desertas
Samba Torto
Someone To Light Up My Life (Se Todos Fossem Iquais A Você)

AMG 4 Star Review

The arrangements by Tommy Newsom for strings, brass, and woodwinds may be a bit sweet and the 13 performances are often under three minutes, but the resulting music is strangely pleasing. Acoustic guitarist Charlie Byrd always had a strong affinity for Brazilian jazz, and he sticks exclusively to Antonio Carlos Jobim songs (including “Só Danço Samba,” “Corcovado,” “Dindi,” and “The Girl from Ipanema”) during this tasteful and melodic effort. Truly beautiful music.

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