Donald Byrd: Weasil
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Fancy Free (Blue Note 89796)
Roland Wilson (bass), Nat Bettis (percussion), John Robinson (percussion).
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 6, 1969
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
An under-recognized classic, Fancy Free highlights Donald Byrd in transition between his acoustic hard-bop period and his slick, controversial 1970s albums produced by the Mizell Brothers. This was the first time Byrd used electric piano on record, and the sly, loping, dramatically behind-the-beat “Weasil” is the standout track. It features a Frank Foster tenor solo for the ages—fat-toned and confident, he speaks the blues with fierce authority. Drummer Joe Chambers adjusts his groove to each soloist, but retains a laid-back swagger and assurance that insist the track moves at his tempo. If your head isn’t bopping within two seconds after pushing play, check your pulse. This one is that deep.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic