This 1994 CD reissue brings back a set that has sometimes been issued under baritonist Pepper Adams' name, most recently as an LP called Stardust. Trumpeter Donald Byrd and Adams always made for a mutually satisfying team. Their sextet is comprised of hard bop-oriented players originally from Detroit, including guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer "Hey Lewis," and who remarkably enough is Louis Hayes. Byrd is showcased on a lengthy rendition of "Stardust"; the musicians play one of the few recorded versions of Erroll Garner's memorable "Trio," and the repertoire also includes Thad Jones "Bitty Ditty" and a pair of Pepper's originals. An excellent hard bop date.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
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Donald Byrd & Pepper Adams
Motor City Scene
Pepper Adams is nor only one of the most consistently imaginative musicians in jazz today but he has also a rare capacity to write, arrange and then to execute. Like not many artists, Pepper is a young musician with a background of years of studying and writing. He played with such outstanding orchestras as Stan Kentoa Benny Goodman and won the new star award of the Down Deaf Critics Poll in 1957; this brought him the leadership which he has shored for the past two years with trumpeter Byrd, who is also a featured member on this record date.
Because of Pepper Adams, Harry Carney and the late Serge Chaloff and Gerry Mulligan, the baritone horn-once low in prestige-has gained respect as a solo horn, not only from musicians, but from the non-professional listener as well. The album you are about to hear consists of five compositions-two of which we give close attention to as being fine works of Adams, which spotlight his ability as a writer. The first side opens, however, with a standard, written by Hoagy Carmichael and brings to front trumpeter Donald Byrd. Byrd, long a friend and co-worker of Adams, also leader and top shelf trumpet man-is right at home as he glides into "Stardust-except for rhythm, this is Byrd all the way and at his best. Track two is one of the two written for the dote by leader Pepper Adams-"Philson", it intros with Paul Chambers, bass. Tommy Flanagan, piano and Lewis on drums. Here Adams grinds his heavy ax and swings hard but sweetly. This also brings guitarist Kenny Durrell to the front with a brief but soulful solo-with Flanagan, Byrd and then Paul Chambers. Chambers who continues to impress me as one of the most eloquent bassists in jazz, ploys superbly here. On Errol Garner's "Trio", Byrd and Flanagan solos are very exciting and effective and the crew swings compulsively-this is taken home with the group taking fours. "Libeccio" is done a little Latinish but never the less suddenly it swings. This again proves Adams not only to be a good writer, but also an excellent soloist. Adams and his men march out on an oldie "Bitty Ditty", written by Thad Jones. Byrd recorded this tune several years ago with pianist George Wellington, but this version is the satisfying climax.
All I can soy is, that this gathering of top notch soloists made for an assortment of very highly listenable jazz. Truly it is Pepper Adams and Donald Byrd at their best!