Donald Byrd (featuring Pepper Adams): Jeannine
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
At the Half Note Café, Volumes 1 & 2 (Blue Note 57187)
Laymon Jackson (bass), Lex Humphries (drums).
Composed by Duke Pearson & Oscar Brown, Jr.
Recorded: Live at the Half Note Café, New York, November 11, 1960
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
From 1958-'63, Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams combined to form one of the most appealing hard-bop partnerships. Byrd's carefully developed lyrical improvisations were greatly contrasted by the sheer intensity of Adams's "Knife"-like improvisatory onslaught. An alumnus of the groups of Charles Mingus and (later) Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Adams's work with these famed artists and as a leader and co-leader in his own right warranted his reputation as the leading purveyor of the aggressive, post-bop baritone sax style.
His solo on this hard-grooving Duke Pearson composition has it all: a forceful sound that will knock you to the ground, a multitude of satisfying vertical leaps and bounds (none more amusing than the perfectly placed accidental squeak near the end of his first line at 5:08), and most importantly, brilliantly executed connecting threads that lend his improvisations a tangible storyline. The entire span from 6:00-7:00 is special playing indeed.
Quick sidebar: In his extended improvisation on this track, Donald Byrd returns to the same (rather long) motivic theme no fewer than 9 times over the course of the solo. Is this variation-on-a-theme lyricism an example of giftedly constructed motivic development? Or does he cross the line and deliver a phoned-in, planned-from-the-start performance?
Reviewer: Eric Novod