Donald Byrd: Estavanico
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Electric Byrd (Blue Note 36195)
Bill Campbell (trombone), Jerry Dodgian (flute), Pepper Adams (clarinet), Wally Richardson (guitar), Ron Carter (bass), Mickey Roker (drums), Airto Moreira (percussion).
Composed by Donald Byrd.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 15, 1970
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Electric Byrd is Donald Byrd's most appealing effort from his brief fusion period, which predated his R&B work with the Mizell brothers. While the Miles Davis influence is undeniably present in Byrd's conception and trumpeting, the group's overall sound differs considerably from Davis's fusion outfits. "Estavanico" is much less abrasive than the Davis sound, focused on dreamy textures and shadings. The 6-man front line also gives Byrd the arranger plenty of options in his instrumentation and harmonization. The rhythm section—wah guitar, electric piano, acoustic bass, Airto's extensive percussion arsenal, and Mickey Roker's resourceful drumming—creates many transcendent moments and builds ethereal soundscapes for soloists Byrd, Lew Tabackin and Frank Foster to explore in their improvisations.
Especially noteworthy are the contributions by Duke Pearson, not only as the electric pianist but more importantly as producer. The warm and comforting electric sounds and layers of textures will transport the listener to another world, and the abundant reverb further enhances this already dreamlike sonic experience. For instance, the reverb applied to Foster's tenor solo is simply marvelous—each successive line dances with the echo of his previous, twisting around one another as they drift away into infinity.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic