1 October 2006


Oh What the hell-let's make it six in a row from Blue Note.There's many more still to go.And this is where Donald Byrd finally crossed right over into funk.

Donald Byrd (tp) Thurman Green (tb) Harold Land (ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Joe Sample (org) Bill Henderson III (el-p) Don Peake, Greg Poree (g) Wilton Felder (el-b) Ed Greene (d) Bobbye Porter Hall (cga, tamb)

Right from the stop-start bass groove that opens "The Emperor," it's immediately clear that Ethiopian Knights is more indebted to funk -- not just funky jazz, but the straight-up James Brown/Sly Stone variety -- than any previous Donald Byrd project. And, like a true funk band, Byrd and his group work the same driving, polyrhythmic grooves over and over, making rhythm the focal point of the music. Although the musicians do improvise, their main objective is to keep the grooves pumping, using their solos more to create texture than harmonic complexity. That's why jazz purists began to detest Byrd with this album (though the follow-ups certainly cinched it); in truth, even though Ethiopian Knights did move Byrd closer to R&B, it's still more jazz than funk, and didn't completely foreshadow his crossover. The dense arrangements and lo-o-o-ng workouts (two of the three tracks are over 15 minutes) are indicative of Byrd's continued debt to Miles Davis, in particular the bevy of live double LPs Davis issued in the early '70s. Byrd again leads a large ensemble, but with mostly different players than on his recent sessions; some come from the group assembled for Bobby Hutcherson's Head On album, others from the Jazz Crusaders. That's part of the reason there are fewer traces of hard bop here, but it's also clear from the title that Byrd's emerging Afrocentric consciousness was leading him -- like Davis -- to seek ways of renewing jazz's connection to the people who created it. Even if it isn't quite as consistent as Kofi and Electric Byrd, Ethiopian Knights is another intriguing transitional effort that deepens the portrait of Byrd the acid jazz legend. Steve Huey, All Music Guide


rob@blogoftheday.org said...

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xmnr0x23 said...

Errr... Track 3 just shortened my "groove" fuse! I love the drums, I love the bass... I love the album!

A sunday morning of musical bliss.

gonzo said...

YO! Your blog is awesome! This album is so funky.thanks for the share. respect from amsterdam. Gonzo!

Immortal Mind said...

Your blog site is awesome. This Donald Byrd album is amazing. I downloaded one of the songs a year off earfuzz.com another great site. Check out my blog Dailymuze.blogspot.com

ais said...

been visiting for a while now, such an amazing selection of great great music -- thank you SO much!

i wanted to ask after a few hard-to-find items if you happen to have any of them: any and all klaus doldinger or klaus weiss and any nobu hara and his sharps & flats, by chance? been searching for this stuff forever and can't find it -- even in NYC i couldn't find it!!

i have a few of the klaus weiss you have put up in the past, and thanks for that ... he really is fantastic, i'd love to hear more. doldinger ... you'd think it would be around, but no such luck. i'm looking for some of his stuff circa '65 to '75. nobua hara ... gorgeous big band music from japan, been around forever. none of it seems to make it outside that country, tho. again, 60's and 70's output seems to have the best horns!

anyways, thanks -- orgy in rhythm is a secret source of great music that i look forward to with every update.

happy easter, all!

ps - donald byrd at his funkiest ... just awesome!!

lupo9696 said...

file not found at rapidshare....

is there a chance to upload that file again? would be great!