Tasteful, low-key, and ingratiatingly melodic, Charlie Byrd had two notable accomplishments to his credit applying acoustic classical guitar techniques to jazz and popular music and helping to introduce Brazilian music to mass North American audiences.
The second Great Guitars album features guitarists Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessel, and Herb Ellis matching wits and generally inspiring each other throughout this studio set. The trio, along with bassist Joe Byrd and drummer Wayne Philips, are heard together on four numbers (best are "Undecided" and Ellis' "H & B Guitar Boogie"; Ellis and Kessel duet on "Down Home Blues"; Byrd has two features to himself; and a medley combines together short versions of "Benny's Bugle & and "Latin Groove" with the typically exuberant "Charlie's Blues" A fine all-around effort.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. This Timeless CD is a bit unusual in that guitarist Charlie Byrd sings the first six numbers; it is only the second time in his career he has taken vocals on record. His singing is simple and generally effective if not too memorable. The final 11 numbers are instrumentals (odd programming) and also surprising in that the emphasis is on standards, often from the swing era; there is only one Brazilian song (Antonio Carlos Jobim's "So Danca Samba"). Byrd (in a trio with bassist Joe Byrd and drummer Chuck Redd) is in generally fine form overall although it is doubtful that he will get too many requests to feature his singing in the future.
Charlie's extraordinary technique and unique arrangements have influenced guitarists everywhere.
In one of those fascinating twists that add to the magic of jazz, it was a mild-mannered, non-exotic. Virginia-born wizard of (primarily) the acoustic guitar who spearheaded the early-Sixties onslaught of bossa nova on the music scene of this country. Charlie Byrd, fascinated by this Brazilian music while on a South American tour, became its most ardent advocate here. He first joined with Stan Getz for a trend-setting LP and then moved on to his own big hit with this Riverside album, highlighted by the best-selling, with-strings version of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Meditation."
Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow and Charlie Byrd exemplify the breadth of American jazz. These elder statesmen of the instrument have well over a century of combined knowledge and experience, and their styles cover a vast spectrum of the music, from straight-ahead swing, to be-bop, to bossa nova and beyond. Herb Ellis established an impeccable standard for swinging, mainstream jazz guitar through his extensive work in concert and on record with numerous great jazz instrumentalists including Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Harry Edison and singer Ella Fitzgerald.