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Donald Byrd – At The Half Note Cafe, Vol. 1 (1960/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Donald Byrd – At The Half Note Cafe, Vol. 1 (1960/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192kHz | Time – 00:43:38 minutes | 1.89 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Blue Note Records
Recorded live at the Half Note Cafe, New York City on November 11, 1960.

Guardian jazz critic John Fordham, declared in 2004 this album is not an essential, exactly, but an interesting glimpse of a jazz might-have-been. AllMusic say: “This is one of the most essential hard bop purchases in the canon. The performances of Pearson showcase his improvisational acumen at its height. His soloing on studio records pales in comparison. This was a hot quintet, one that not only swung hard, but possessed a deep lyricism and an astonishing sense of timing, and one need only this set by them to feel the full measure of their worth.”

I say amen to that. AllMusic has my vote, Guardian, go stand in the corner, wrong again. This quintet swings without mercy. Pepper Adams had been a regular collaborator with Byrd in the late Fifties, recording together for Blue Note on Byrd in Hand back in 1957. For some time after Byrd had been working with Jackie McLean and Hank Mobley, but in late 1960, Adams reappeared with Pearson and a new rhythm section, in form of the new quintet. Van Gelder plunges you into the front row again, and you get a sense of what it must have been like in the presence of the New Donald Byrd Quintet, especially the irrepressible angry-buzzing of Pepper Adams baritone paired with Byrd’s bright upper register and mercurial phrasing, a perfect combination and refreshing change from tenor-driven standard bop fare.

These two-volume live Blue Note club dates, like the Blakey Café Bohemia and at the Corner of the Jazz World sessions, are an awe-inspiring experience, offering an immersive evening-in the likes of which many of us will never otherwise enjoy in the flesh. Add to the list the Riverside Village Vanguard sessions of Bill Evans, Miles Davis at the Plugged Nickel and at the Blackhawk, Shelley Manne at the Manhole, Thelonious Monk’s Europen Tour, Newport Festival, there really ought to be an LJC Poll of “Your favourite Live Jazz Recordings” but I feel inadequate to compile the right candidate list. If any of you feel you can offer some suggestions I will put a Poll together, on the theme of “What would be on your list of the greatest live jazz recordings?”

1 Intro/My Girl Shirl 11:47
2 Soulful Kiddy 10:02
3 A Portrait Of Jennie 07:03
4 Cecile 12:54
5 Theme: Pure D. Funk 01:52

Donald Byrd, trumpet
Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone
Duke Pearson, piano
Laymon Jackson, bass
Lex Humphries, drums


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