Donald Byrd

Au Chat Qui Pêche (Digipack)

Fresh Sound Records

Donald Byrd (tp), Bobby Jaspar (ts, fl), Walter Davis Jr. (p), Doug Watkins (b), Art Taylor (d)

Reference: FSRCD 388

Bar code: 8427328603881

In the month of July 1958 Byrd made a lengthyvisit to Europe. He fronted a fine quintet that gave a concert appearances at festivals held in many different countries, followed an engagement at the Paris jazz club Au Chat Qui Pêche.

The group felt very comfortable at the club on Rue de La Huchette, Donald said: "Maybe you have noticed that, since I've been in Paris, I have been playing better than I did when I arrived in Cannes last July; we have all made a lot of progress since the festival. I think I have found an audience of connoisseurs, who come especially to hear us... it's the ideal audience! I'm convinced that this has made us play much better."

01. All The Things You Are (Kern-Hammerstein) 11:35
02. It Might As Well Be Spring (Rodgers-Hammerstein) 6:34
03. Parisian Thorough Fare (Bud Powell) 17:28
04. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers-Hart) 5:51
05. Off Minor / Intro (Thelonious Monk)
-Well You Needn't (Thelonious Monk)
-Salt Peanuts (Gillespie-Clarke) 9:45
06. Down (Miles Davis) 6:31
07. All This Time (William Walton) 7:04
08. Stella by Starlight (Washington-Young) 6:18
09. 52nd Street Theme (Thelonious Monk) 6:58

Album details

Donald Byrd (trumpet), Bobby Jaspar (tenor sax; flute on #1,3 & 5), Walter Davis Jr. (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Art Taylor (drums).
Recorded live at "Au Chat Qui Pêche", Paris, October 29, 1958

Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.

Press reviews

"Le Chat qui Pêche (The Cat Who Fishes) was a jazz club and restaurant in Paris that opened in the mid-1950s and lasted until 1970. The club was located in a cellar at 10 Rue de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter, on the left bank of the Seine.

It was just two blocks from Rue Chat qui Pêche (above), the narrowest street in Paris dating back to 1540. Its name comes from the sign of an old fish store that owned a black cat that could catch fish in the River Seine with a swipe of its clawed paw.

In October 1958, Donald Byrd, with his quartet, played the club during one of his extended tours in Paris. His group featured Byrd (tp), Walter Davis, Jr. (p), Doug Watkins (b) and Art Taylor (d).

Fresh Sound has issued Donald Byrd Quartet Featuring Bobby Jaspar Au Chat qui Pêche, recorded on October 29, 1958. On this particular night, Bobby Jaspar sat in on three tracks playing flute and tenor saxophone.

The tracks are All the Things You Are; It Might as Well Be Spring; Parisian Thoroughfare; My Funny Valentine; Medley: Off Minor/Intro, Well You Needn't and Salt Peanuts; Down; All This Time; Sella by Starlight and 52nd Street Theme.

While the sound isn't perfect (the microphone seems to have been placed near Art's drums during the first few tracks), it's good enough and has been cleaned up with 24-bit remastering. You just need to turn up the volume. I love the album for three key reasons:

For one, the sound improves by the fourth track (My Funny Valentine), when they must have moved the mic. For another, the group is superb, especially Walter Davis Jr., who would have his first leadership date about two weeks later at another Paris club. And lastly, it's terrific to hear Art's drums up close, which you rarely get to experience unless you had the opportunity to hear him play at a club or during his fills on his sideman recording dates.

As noted, you just need to turn up the volume to hear the music clearly. It's worth the adjustment. For about an hour and 10 minutes, you're back in Paris in October 1958, digging Donald Byrd's trumpet and his fabulous quartet. It really feels like you're there, with the mild ambient club sound. Terrific group, and jazz in Paris in the 1950s. Unbeatable."

—Marc Myers (September 25, 2023)

"Were you to ask trumpeter Donald Byrd what moment in his career he would most like to relive, it would not be surprising if he selected the period documented on this recording. It was the late summer of 1958, and Byrd and his quartet had settled in for an extended gig, including practically carte blanche musical freedom, at a Parisian Left Bank jazz cave called Au Chat Qui Peche. On most occasions the quartet was augmented by the Belgian tenor saxophonist-flutist Bobby Jaspar, who at the time was married to American expatriate singer Blossom Dearie.

Today Byrd is the lone survivor, having long outlived not just Jaspar but an American rhythm section of young lionspianist Walter Davis, Jr., bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Art Taylor. The stay culminated in a public concert, Byrd in Paris (Verve International), which cannot compare with the candid experience and moment of verismo history offered by this unrehearsed club date, released for the first time in the United States in 2005.

There are no mics on the horns, so solo clarity is sacrificed to room ambience (most of the table conversations are in English). Although Davis' piano and Watkins' bass cut through the mix, the instruments of Byrd and Jaspar sound distant, except when Taylor switches to brushes or elects to drop out altogether. After a slow and rather tentative start onAll the Things You Are, the horns respond with heat and conviction to Taylor's insistent prods on Parisian Thoroughfare, which features the best work by Jaspar on the date. Though he's perhaps most remembered for his flute work, the Belgian woodwind player goes to the smaller instrument only oncefor a brief stretch on Monk's Well You Needn't.

Byrd sounds strongest on the ballads (partly because of not having to compete with the explosive thunder of Taylor's drum kit), especially the seldom-performed All This Time by William Walton. Throughout the set his playing is flowing, logical and without surprises. At the same time, on Monk's 52nd Street Theme he makes it clear why he's the leader (and future PhD). The piece, taken at a breakneck tempo, moves from Davis' fleet, Bud Powell-driven solo to an unaccompanied, masterfully constructed walking bass solo by Watkins. At the end of measure 32, Byrd alone comes in. Not wanting to be left hanging out to dry again, he cautions the musicians to get it right the second time, even calling off Davis at the bridge. Finally, the second time around, everyone is primed to come in after measure 32, bringing both the tune and the set to a satisfying close.

Au Chat Qui Peche 1958 may not be momentous music, but it nonetheless provides a rare and historic glimpse of music in the moment."

Samuel Chell
All About Jazz


10,95 €  (tax incl.)

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