Donald Byrd

Harlem Blues

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This Landmark release was trumpeter Donald Byrd's first jazz album in over 15 years after a long (and commercially if not artistically successful) detour into poppish R&B/funk. In the 1980s Byrd had neglected his trumpet playing in order to direct the Blackbyrds and teach. The period away from his instrument shows in spots on this well-intentioned set. Byrd gathered together four excellent players (altoist Kenny Garrett, pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith) to play four group originals, W.C. Handy's "Harlem Blues" and "Blue Monk." Ironically Byrd's own playing was not at this point up to the level of his sidemen although his chops would improve during the next couple of years.

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