everybodydigs#71 Donald Byrd – Fuego


everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

Fuego — a title that might be somewhat misleading — is the final Blue Note recording exclusively pairing Donald Byrd with Jackie McLean, a fruitful partnership that set the yin of the (in this case) restrained trumpeter, against the yang of the tart and extroverted alto saxophonist. While not quite a unified whole, the two were involved in turf battles that were based on mutual respect, here exuding a quieter fire that toned down McLean and muted Byrd to attain an intriguing harmonic balance. Duke Pearson’s clever piano in the middle, with Doug Watkins playing bass and favored drummer Lex Humphries, made for one of the more diverse sounds in modern jazz circa 1959-1960. Of course hard bop is at the core of this band, but Byrd is moving further into post-bop, as served up heartily by the two horns during the modal, rambling, and staggered theme of the title selection. On the front cover, a contemplative Donald Byrd is depicted, perhaps pondering his next move and his band five years after successfully joining the New York City jazz scene from his native Detroit. It also represents his thoughtful role in Fuego, as he takes a break from forceful interaction to play a more democratic role on this refined and mature album that is less brash, a prelude for his more powerful statements yet to come. (allmusic)

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