Donald Byrd


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Not only was 1987's Harlem Blues Donald Byrd's first album in over 15 years, it also marked the first time he had recorded acoustic straight-ahead jazz since the '60s. Released in 1998, this CD looks back on the sessions that Orrin Keepnews produced for Byrd after his comeback and draws on three albums: Harlem Blues, Getting Down to Business (1989), and A City Called Heaven (1991). The trumpeter/fl├╝gelhornist had neglected his chops during his hiatus from recording, and his playing on Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk" and James Williams' "Alter Ego" (both from Harlem Blues) reflects that. But Byrd still played with feeling, and material from Getting Down to Business and A City Called Heaven finds his chops improving gradually. To his credit, Keepnews made sure that Byrd was surrounded by many first-class improvisers from 1987-1991: Joe Henderson, Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller, and Bobby Hutcherson are among the heavyweights featured on these sessions. Landmarks isn't in a class with Byrd's classic Blue Note output of the '50s and '60s, but the material is pleasing and enjoyable nonetheless.

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