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Donald Byrd: Fuego

Album Reviews:

Record Collector (magazine) (p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Remarkably, it doesn't sound dated....It is a shining example of the art of hard bop."

Album Notes

Personnel: Donald Byrd (trumpet); Jackie McLean (alto saxophone); Duke Pearson (piano); Doug Watkins (bass); Lex Humphries (drums).

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on October 4, 1959. Includes liner notes by Leonard Feather.

Donald Byrd's FUEGO is one of the many fine hard-bop sets the trumpeter recorded for Blue Note throughout the late 1950s and '60s. Featuring all Byrd originals, from the driving pulse of the opening title track to the gospel-tinged "Amen," which closes out the album, FUEGO has much to recommend it. There are top-notch personnel (Jackie McLean lends his soulful sax work to the proceedings), strong compositions, and a relaxed, open feel throughout. And, of course, Rudy Van Gelder's pristine engineering is the icing on the cake.

"Funky Mama" is all sultry swing, a martial bounce gives way to bluesy groove in "Low Life," and the melancholic, mid-tempo "Lament" keeps things varied. The album as a whole, however, is unified in tone and mood, and it still sounds fresh and vital decades after its inception. And while record enthusiasts may stand by their vinyl, the Blue Note CD reissue--on which the original analog masters have been transferred to digital--improves what is already an exceptional recording.


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