Similar to Laurindo Almeida, Charlie Byrd took a classical approach to jazz. He returned from World War II and studied composition and jazz theory at the Harnett National Music School in New York, after which he studied under classical guitarists Sophocles Papas and the great Andres Segovia. His greatest influence, however, was gypsy jazzman Django Reinhardt. He first became interested in Brazilian music in the late 1950’s, and in 1962 recorded the seminal album Jazz Samba with bossa nova saxophonist Stan Getz covering the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Along with Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel, he was one of the “Great Guitars,” and recorded with Almeida, Cal Tjader, and his own trio, including his brother Joe on bass.
The two videos today feature him with his trio playing a couple of bossa nova standards. First is Jobim’s “Wave,” demonstrating his facility with jazz improvisation in a classical setting. Second is Luiz Bonfa’s “Samba de Orfeu,” from the soundtrack from the movie Black Orpheus.
Much more of Byrd’s music, including sessions with the Great Guitars and Stan Getz, as well as a number of his teaching videos, can be found on YouTube.
Charlie Byrd, your Two for Tuesday, November 25, 2014.