Sharps and Flats: Charlie Byrd and The Music Of Brazil

Charlie Byrd will probably forever be linked to the worldwide explosion of bossa nova in the early '60s because of his classic 1961 collaboration with Stan Getz, "Jazz Samba." Though it may cause some to overlook his classical influences, this association isn't such a bad thing, as it's encouraged him to revisit the style numerous times since then, most recently on his excellent new album, "My Inspiration: The Music of Brazil." The album is one of Byrd's most authentically Brazilian-sounding yet. Here he is backed by the Brazilian guitar, bass and drums of Trio Da Paz (Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Dudaka Da Fonseca) as well as the wonderful Brazilian singer Maucha Adnet, who appears on half the tunes.The 12 numbers on "My Inspiration" range from the expected Jobim favorites -- including enchanting versions of "So Danca Samba" and "Fotografia" -- to more eclectic choices. Chopin's Prelude in E minor (here titled "Freddy's Tune") is arranged by Byrd in a bossa style, and proves that even this familiar classical melody can sound sensuously Brazilian. Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton beautifully evokes Getz's famous tone throughout the album, but the real star is Byrd, who sprinkles his distinctive guitar sound all over, establishing himself once and for all as one of the few non-Brazilian masters of the genre.This article originally appeared in Salon, an online magazine at

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