Donald Byrd / Donald Byrd and 125th St., N.Y.C.

Love Has Come Around: The Elektra Records Anthology 1978-1982

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After nearly 20 years with Blue Note, the last several of which were spent working closely with Larry and Fonce Mizell, Donald Byrd linked up with another Mizell brother, Don, general manager of Elektra's newly established jazz/fusion division. Byrd joined a roster of progressives who included Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patrice Rushen, and Lenny White, and though he no longer worked with Don's siblings, the trumpeter continued to record slick, R&B-rooted albums that included bids at club play and quiet storm rotation. From 1978 through 1982, Byrd released four albums on Elektra: Thank You...For F.U.M.L. (1978) and Donald Byrd and 125th Street, N.Y.C. (1979), produced by Byrd, and Love Byrd (1981) and Words, Sounds, Colors and Shapes (1982), produced by Isaac Hayes. The contents of all four LPs are thoroughly compiled and resequenced here by BBR, with a couple 12" and 7" versions subbed for original album versions. The package is easily preferable to the assorted individual CD reissues that preceded it. A significant portion of the material is merely functional, mildly pleasant, and the emphasis on the large cast of vocalists -- including Syreeta Wright, Maxine Anderson, Jim Gilstrap, and Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul Unlimited group -- tends to leave Byrd sounding like a sideman, but several cuts are among the best of their kind. There are two absolute gems. The jubilant "Love Has Come Around" is a club classic, Byrd's highest charting single (number 15 R&B, number four disco). Though it didn't chart, "I Feel Like Loving You Today" is a perfect Byrd/Hayes compound -- the epitome of deep quiet storm -- roughly 60-percent "Wind Parade" and 40-percent "A Few More Kisses to Go."

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