Royce Campbell

Tribute to Charlie Byrd

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Never one for flashy pyrotechnics, Charlie Byrd relied on the tones of a gut-string acoustic guitar to offer tasteful renderings of standards. On A Tribute to Charlie Byrd electric guitarist Royce Campbell, acoustic guitarist Gene Bertoncini, bassist Keter Betts, and drummer Chuck Redd pay regards by following in the master's footsteps. The small group setting along with selections by Duke Ellington, Frank Foster, and Antonio Carlos Jobim would have been to Byrd's liking. The presence of two guitarists, highlighted by their complementary though dissimilar styles, also spices things up. The album kicks off with the familiar "Shiny Stockings," a bread-and-butter piece for Byrd, before delving into Jobim's "Meditation," one of many Latin-flavored pieces that helped stir up the bossa nova craze during the early '60s. There's a particularly moving take on Ellington's "Mood Indigo," featuring Bertoncini as a soloist. It's here, and on a piece like "How Insensitive," that the band comes closest to capturing Byrd's spirit. Indeed, it's hard to listen to cuts like "Disafinado" without thinking of Byrd, especially when there's an acoustic guitar involved. The album ends with a Campbell original titled "Blues for Charlie," a nicely composed piece and a fitting note to finish the album on. Byrd fans, along with anyone who loves good jazz guitar, will find many things to like about A Tribute to Charlie Byrd.

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