Donald Byrd (featuring Sonny Red): Fly Little Bird Fly
Fly Little Bird Fly
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Mustang (Blue Note 8599632)
Walter Booker (bass), Freddie Waits (drums).
Composed by Donald Byrd.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 24, 1966
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Sylvester Kyner was his real name, but he was better known as Sonny Red. Despite several recordings as a leader and further recording and performing as a sideman in the '50's and '60's, the altoist never really made his mark. Red appeared on four mid-'60s Donald Byrd sessions for Blue Note, beginning with Mustang. The title tune was Red's, which the composer hoped might become a big hit like "The Sidewinder" so he could buy a new car. This didn't happen. "Fly Little Bird Fly" got just as much airplay back in the day, and deserved it – a stirring Byrd composition with complex changes based on a whole- tone scale. Pianist Tyner, used to such harmonies from playing with Coltrane, is riveting in his absolute onslaught of a solo, which leaves no stone unturned, as well as in his fleet-fingered intro. Red, exhibiting his clear Jackie McLean influence, sounds less comfortable, as he sticks closely to the melody in his solo and plays mostly choppy, truncated phrases. The spirit is there, but not the inspiration. Byrd and Mobley open up a bit more in their improvisations, but only Tyner truly breaks through the pre-imposed structure, aided in no small part by his darting left-hand punctuations.
Reviewer: Scott Albin