Ed Byrne is a good example of a jazz musician who has impressive sideman credentials but hasn't recorded extensively on his own. The lyrical trombonist has backed some real heavyweights (including Chet Baker and Eddie Palmieri), although he still isn't as well-known as he should be. The material on Two Shades of Blue falls into two categories: five tracks that were recorded in a New York studio and three that were recorded live at Sculler's in Cambridge, MA. In both settings, Byrne favors acoustic-oriented post-bop -- nothing groundbreaking, but swinging and enjoyable. To his credit, the New York resident (previously based in Philadelphia) does most of his own writing and doesn't inundate listeners with worn-out standards. The only songs on Two Shades of Blue that Byrne didn't write are Joe Henderson's "Recorda-Me" and Duke Ellington's "Black Beauty," which proves to be the CD's biggest surprise. "Black Beauty" (a gem that Duke unveiled in 1928) has been recorded by various swing artists over the years, but Byrne gives listeners a rare chance to hear it in a post-bop setting. Not a masterpiece but solid and respectable, Two Shades of Blue indicates that Byrne should be doing a lot more recording as a leader.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson