Donald Byrd (tp), Bernard McKinney (euphonium), Yusef Lateef (ts), Barry Harris (p), Alvin Jackson (b), Frank Gant (d)
Reference: FSRCD 1666
Bar code: 842732861669
This Transition album features the concert the Donald Byrd Sextet gave in Detroit on August 23th, 1955 organized by the New Jazz Society, a group formed under the impetus of Kenny Burrell, one of the key influences in Detroit jazz.
In this concert Byrd gave notice that he would be a major jazzman. Playing with intense drive and cohesiveness, allied to relaxed authority and individual conception, the young trumpeter confirmed his much heralded potential, contributing some excellent soloing. Of the others, tenor Yusef Lateef, big-toned and muscular, swung vehemently, full of emotional force. Bernard McKinney, here on euphonium, was impressively inventive, while pianist Barry Harris, an influential adviser to many young Detroiters, was typically assured, strongly supported by bassist Alvin Jackson and drummer Frank Gant.
The music made by these men remains undeniable proof that, at a time when New York, Chicago and the West Coast were the headliners of the jazz scene, much jazz of value was being created in other localities besides these urban hotspots.
"Trumpeter Don Byrd died last year, and it was hardly even noticed. At one time, he was THE hard bop trumpeter, bridging the gap between Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. He is heard on a gazillion Blue Note and Fantasy albums in the 50s and 60s, worked with the Jazz Messengers, and even had some major selling albums. Here, we find him in his early years, and its a joy to hear such fervent and exciting music that oozes out from his horn.
With the disaster that Detroit is these days, its hard to imagine that at one time the Motor City was a hub of swinging jazz. On the first single disc, Donald Byrd leads a sextet of locals at a gig at The World Stage in good old Detroit on a August 55 gig, and it sizzles! And the hometown artists? How do you feel about Yusef Lateef/ts, Barry Harris/p, Alvin Jackson/b, Frank Grant/dr and Bernard McKinney/euph for a night of sounds? Lateefs tenor rolls in like a Mach Truck on the smoky Yusef and the whole band sways on Blues Walk. Byrds horn glows on Dancing in the Dark and some exciting street sounds frame the peppy Parisian Thoroughfare. Bop was in the air that night, and they come across as its emissaries!
The two disc Transition Sessionshas Byrd with his hometown buddy Doug Watkins/b in a variety of settings for the short lived Boston-based Transition label in 55 and 60. The Byrds Eye View session from 1955 is essentially the prototype of the Original Jazz Messengers with Hank Mobley/ts, Horace Silver/p, Art Blakey/dr, Watkins and Joe Gordon for an extra measure of trumpet. Byrd is once again a delight on the lyrical Everything Happens to Me while the mood is deep and riveting as Watkins delivers a hip intro to Dougs Blues before the horns get a chance to stretch out. Mobleys horn is as slick as fresh corduroy jeans on Hanks Tune and the two horns flutter together like harmonious and happy hummingbirds onCrazy Rhythm.Just as enjoyable is the 1956 session with Byrd, Mobley and Watkins with fellow Detroiter Kenny Burrell/g and Duke Jordan/p with Art Taylor/dr. Watkins is the leader on this session, and the grooves skip along well on Phil T. McNastys Blues while Burrell swings like the juke joint is jumping on More of the Same. Byrd leads the last session on the 2 disc set on another 56 date, this one a quartet setting with Ray Santisi/p, Jim Zitano/dr and Watkins. Santisi gets the spotlight on a couple of tuens such as People Will Say Were In Love and Whats New and makes you wish he had more albums out on his own. Byrd, once again, takes the mantle for ballads such as Polka Dots and Moonbeans and glows like a sunrise on If I Love Again. Simply delightful music here."
George W. Harris (November 3, 2014)