Thursday, October 16, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Charlie Byrd

Artist:Charlie Byrd
Song:Samba de Orpheus
Album:Byrdland/More Brazilian Byrd

Along with Stan Getz, guitarist Charlie Byrd was responsible for bringing Brazilian music to the US with the 1962 hit Desifinado. From there Byrd had a long career as a master of jazz on the acoustic guitar. He was born Sept. 16, 1925 in Suffolk, VA and he grew up in the nearby town of Chuckatuck. His father played guitar and taught Byrd to play at age 10. His younger brother Joe Byrd played bass in Byrd's trio for years. He was in the US Army during WWII and got to play with his idol Django Reinhardt while playing in the US Army band in Paris. After the war, Byrd studied jazz composition at the Harnett National Music School in New York City. He moved to Washington, DC in 1950 and lived in Italy studying with classical guitar legend Andres Segovia. Byrd first recorded as a leader for Savoy Records in 1957. He joined Woody Herman's band in 1959 and it was on a diplomatic tour of South America that Byrd discovered Brazilian music. When he got home, he played some recordings for Stan Getz and the two convinced Creed Taylor to produce the 1962 album Jazz Samba. The album was very successful and launched Brazilian music in the US. This led to a contract with Columbia Records in 1965. Samba de Orpheus is from the 1966 album Byrdland. Samba de Orpheus was written by Luis Bonfa for the 1959 film Black Orpheus and first adapted to jazz by pianist Vince Guaraldi on the 1962 album Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. Byrdland has Byrd's usual trio of his brother Joe Byrd on bass and Bill Reichenbach on drums. This was his trio for a decade. There are also guest appearances by Hal Posey on trumpet and album producer Teo Macero on sax. Byrdland is available on a Collectables twofer CD paired with the 1967 album More Brazilian Byrd. That has Byrd playing with an orchestra. I think most guitarists would agree with me that Byrd is better in a trio where you can really hear his techniques. Strings can drown him out. Byrd left Columbia in 1971 and recorded for Concord Jazz for the rest of his career. Charlie Byrd continued to record, tour, play local clubs in Maryland and educate until his death on Dec. 2, 1999 at age 74. Here's Charlie Byrd with Joe Byrd on bass and Chuck Redd on drums performing Samba de Orpheus probably in the 80s.

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