For this excellent album, trumpeter Donald Byrd teams up with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, baritonist Pepper Adams, pianist Walter Davis, Jr., bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Taylor. Together the sextet performs three Byrd originals, two Davis songs and the standard "Witchcraft." Although none of the new tunes caught on, the group (which includes two distinctive saxophonists and the rapidly maturing trumpet of Donald Byrd) plays consistently creative and spirited solos in the hard bop idiom.
The R&B, soul and boogaloo sounds that make up the singles recorded by James Brown’s right-hand man. Together on CD for the first time. Without Bobby Byrd there would have been no James Brown, whose whole career stems from the moment he crashed into Byrd at a community baseball match in Toccoa, Georgia in 1953. Brown was an inmate of the Alto Reform School, a converted National Guard Armoury in the north of the state. Byrd’s family helped secure Brown’s release, and Byrd then let the youngster join his vocal group.
My Ladye Nevells Booke is a collection of 42 keyboard pieces by the greatest English composer of his day, William Byrd. It includes dances, variations, contrapuntal fancies and battle-pieces, and was compiled seemingly from the composer’s manuscripts for Lady Nevell, half-sister of Francis Bacon and third wife of Sir Henry Nevell of Billingbere, who was her second husband. The volume, dated 1591 and handsomely bound, was acquired by the British Library in 2006. It constitutes a significant monument to Byrd’s achievement as a composer for the virginals.
This well-planned Naxos programme is carefully laid out in two parts, each of viol music interspersed with harpsichord and organ pieces and ending with an anthem. It gives collectors an admirable opportunity to sample, very inexpensively, the wider output of Thomas Tomkins, and outstandingly fine Elizabethan musician whose music is still too known. Though he is best known for hid magnificent church music, it is refreshing to discover what he could do with viols, experimenting with different combinations of sizes of instruments, usually writing with the polyphony subservient to expressive harmonic feeling, as in the splendid and touching Fantasia for six viols. Perhaps the most remarkable piece here is the Hexachord fantasia, where the scurrying part-writing ornaments a rising and falling six-note scale (hexachord). The two five-part verse anthems and Above the stars, which is in six parts, are accompanied by five viols, with a fine counter-tenor in Above the stars and a bass in Thou art my King.