Charlie Byrd

Blues Sonata

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AllMusic Review by

Though recorded on one day, at standard length for an LP, this is really two albums in one sleeve, showcasing two rather different formats this highly original guitarist pursued. "The Blues Sonata" is set up in a pseudo-classical three-movement manner, with a polonaise, ballad, and scherzo, and the liner notes refer to a sonata form of development. The classical trappings, if any exist, are worn very lightly by Byrd, his bassist Keter Betts, and drummer Buddy Deppenschmidt. "Polonaise Pour Pietro" is a very blues workout. "Ballade in B Minor" is Chopin-esque in melodic influence only, including the brush-stroked improvisation segment, and "Scherzo for an Old Shoe" sets up as a Latin-tinged number, then stays on one chord with an Andalusian strain. On side two, the scene abruptly becomes very urbane as Byrd switches to electric guitar, takes on Barry Harris' comping, bopping piano, and engages in straightforward swinging and balladeering without any textbook definitions getting in the way. "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Jordu," and "Zing! Went the Strings on My Heart" are the merry swingers, and "That Ole Devil Called Love" the relaxed ballad showcase. Whatever you call the music, the whole LP goes down easily and musically.

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