- You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it throughout this vintage Blue Note pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Side two is clean, clear and natural sounding with a lovely bottom end and lots of space around all of the players, and side one is not far behind in all those areas
- If you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful session from 1970 – recorded by none other than Rudy Van Gelder – this copy will let you do that (particularly on side two)
- 4 1/2 stars: “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.”
An excellent 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 Disc 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.
This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 Electric 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 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.
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. 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 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, full-bodied 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.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
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.