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Jose Reyes

Album Feature: Donald Byrd At the Half Note Cafe, Vol 1



This album here, “Donald Byrd At the Half Note, Vol 1” will be featured here for about 2 weeks in it’s own special playlist and then placed in the “Hard Bop” playlist permanently. The cover above was the original one but there were actually two volumes. The second volume was released afterwards but then again there’s a 3rd album with both Vol 1 and Vol 2 together. The 3 albums can be purchased separately but Vol 1 and Vol 2 are rather expensive, are only in CD format and weirdly enough are imports from Japan. The Album with both Vol 1 and Vol 2 together comes in both Cd Format (Expensive also) and MP3 Download (About $10). So it’s up to you how much you would like to pay. All the information you need is here.

All this could have been much less complicated if they would have released both Vol 1 and vol 2 right from the beginning at the same time since it was recorded live on the same date, November 11, 1960.  I will be only featuring Vol 1 and in it’s entirety (except introduction). Check the Schedule link for the times it will be playing. I will place both volumes into the Hard Bop playlist afterwards.

More about this special recording here (Album info for Vol 1 and 2 together):

Recorded live at the Half Note, New York, New York on November 11, 1960. Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal and Leonard Feathers.

As Rudy Van Gelder continued to establish himself as the greatest studio engineer of jazz, he started to venture out into the nightclub scene of 1960s New York City to document the bands from the Blue Note label that were growing by strength in numbers and high-quality hard to post-bop. Donald Byrd’s groups were changing and evolving, but by 1960 had reverted to two years prior with the return of baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams as his main foil. In early 1960 Byrd was working with Jackie McLean and Hank Mobley, but by autumn and winter Adams had reentered the picture, joining holdovers pianist Duke Pearson and drummer Lex Humphries. Some of this material sees the spotlight on live performances at the Half Note Cafe from the previous studio recording, Byrd in Flight, while other numbers are fresh interpretations of standards and more new material from Byrd and Pearson. Bassist Laymon Jackson spent some prominent time with Byrd, Lou Donaldson, and Nat Adderley before professionally fading from sight, but he is an excellent anchor for his bandmates, and one who deserves close inspection. Pearson’s animated and excited “My Girl Shirl,” the cute ditty “Child’s Play,” and Byrd’s jaunty “Soulful Kiddy” are the reprised tracks, and kick off the set. They are a quintessential hard bop sandwich with a soul-jazz filling spiced by chopsticks piano. Two other tracks are penned by Pearson: the most famous of his works, the quick and bright “Jeannine,” driven by the pianist’s two-fisted comping chords; and “Chant,” which is the most laid-back yet soulful selection…..Read More

The First CD is Vol 1 and it has two bonus songs and this special playlist I will be featuring will include them, ENJOY!


About Donald Byrd:

In the aftermath of Clifford Brown’s tragic death in 1956, many Jazz observers spent fruitless hours looking for likely successors, just as they had done when Charlie Parker had died the previous year. Donald Byrd was 24 years old and the most likely candidate.

Born on Dec. 9, 1932 in Detroit, Byrd studied trumpet and composition and graduated from Wayne State University in 1954. He arrived in New York in 1955 to complete an MA at the Manhattan School of Music and his elegant musical imagination and his beautiful tone quickly brought him to the attention of the established New York Jazz scene and record companies. Amongst others he worked with Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Jackie McLean and Thelonious Monk. His big break came in 1956 when he briefly joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers where he was the successor of Clifford Brown and Kenny Dorham and the predecessor to Lee Morgan. By 1958 Byrd was co-leading a group with Pepper Adams, which lasted until 1961 and made many fine recordings. In 1959, Byrd discovered Herbie Hancock in Chicago and recorded a number impressive dates for Columbia and Blue Note in the ’60s, including Free Form and New Perspectives.

In the early 60s Byrd did groundbreaking work in the education field, introducing Jazz courses, which were until then virtually unknown at many US Universities and Conservatories…..Learn More

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