Centered around the Byrd/Adams Blue Note dates Byrd in Hand, Chant, Royal Flush, The Cat Walk, and Off to the Races, Mosaic's Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Studio Sessions finds the Detroit natives at the top of their game during 1959-1962. Writing and performing some of the most original and tight hard bop around, Byrd and Adams led a variety of combos that featured the likes of Herbie Hancock (his first session), Wynton Kelly, Duke Pearson (who also contributed material), Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones, and Billy Higgins. From distinct covers ("Lover Come Back to Me") to seamlessly complex originals ("Bronze Dance"), Byrd's pure-toned trumpet and Adams' angular baritone unexpectedly make a perfect match. And beyond a wealth of sides that prove the point, the collection also features – in typically thorough and classy Mosaic fashion – some stunning session photos by Blue Note lensman Francis Wolff and an extensive essay by Bob Blumenthal. A hard bop experience of the highest order.
Reuniting with Larry Mizell, the man behind his last three LPs, Donald Byrd continues to explore contemporary soul, funk, and R&B with Places and Spaces. In fact, the record sounds more urban than its predecessor, which often played like a Hollywood version of the inner city. Keeping the Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, and Sly Stone influences of Street Lady, Places and Spaces adds elements of Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Stevie Wonder, which immediately makes the album funkier and more soulful. Boasting sweeping string arrangements, sultry rhythm guitars, rubbery bass, murmuring flügelhorns, and punchy horn charts, the music falls halfway between the cinematic neo-funk of Street Lady and the proto-disco soul of Earth, Wind & Fire. Also, the title Places and Spaces does mean something – there are more open spaces within the music, which automatically makes it funkier. Of course, it also means that there isn't much of interest on Places and Spaces for jazz purists, but the album would appeal to most fans of Philly soul, lite funk, and proto-disco.
This unusual set was one of the most successful uses of a gospel choir in a jazz context. Trumpeter Donald Byrd and a septet that includes tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, guitarist Kenny Burrell, and pianist Herbie Hancock are joined by an eight-voice choir directed by Coleridge Perkinson. The arrangements by Duke Pearson are masterful and one song, "Cristo Redentor," became a bit of a hit. This is a memorable effort that is innovative in its own way, a milestone in Donald Byrd's career.
Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd’s critically acclaimed career and life have assured the Detroit native his rightful place as one of the most respected musicians of the 20th century. Having successfully transitioned to Jazz Fusion in the 1970s under the guidance of the Mizell brothers, creating four albums on Blue Note records including the highly influential Places and Spaces, Byrd continued to explore the fertile possibilities of Fusion with four more albums recorded for Elektra Records between 1978 and 1982.
Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture "Donald" Byrd II (December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013) was an American jazz and rhythm & blues trumpeter. A sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was best known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist.