Yusef Lateef & Donald Byrd – Byrd Jazz: First Flight at the Motor City Scenes
This record has first been released in 1956 as “Byrd jazz” with Donald Byrd as declared band leader but there were several versions of it over the years. The last reissue has been about three decades ago and so it is more than time to go for another fresh print of this back row classic of the 1950s jazz scene. On these recordings we get some floating and grooving hard bop with an ever pulsating rhythm section, dueling tenor sax by Lateef and trumpet by Byrd plus solo slots for bass, drums and piano. The leading instruments generate a cheerful atmosphere and make this live album a blissful experience for every lover of the mid 50s hard bop sound. The passion of the musicians grabs the audience immediately and when the melodies pour out of your speakers you will be captured as well by this pure essence of jazz. Far from later modal and even free jazz monoliths these catchy tunes are quite easy to follow. The band is tight and this is a great advantage. Every note, every beat of the drums sits in the right place as if they have always been there and just had to be made audible by the band. It is indeed like the sculptor who already sees the glyph within the block of marble and just sets it free. The music plays itself through the instruments. Haunting and relaxed passages, cool melodies put into memorable structures. A classic among the hipsters and beatniks with their goatbeards, metal-rimmed glasses and berets drinking, tripping and philosophizing to the sound of this and many other albums that were made from jazz aficionados for their kind.