Mild, smooth trio date with Byrd playing light jazz, occasional Afro-Latin, and even a mock classical number, backed by bassist Joe Byrd and drummer Bertell Knox. This sometimes comes close to, but never becomes, mood music. The 2000 reissue approximately doubles the length of the original release with seven previously unissued tracks (none alternate versions) cut at the same live sessions. The extra material is stylistically consistent with the rest of the disc, encompassing pop ("The Way We Were"), classic jazz ("It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)"), Vivaldi's "Concerto in G," and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Meditation."
This project is an inspired idea. Guitarist Charlie Byrd, who will always be best-known for his bossa nova recordings, also always loved Django Reinhardt's music. He heads du Hot Club de Concord, a group similar to the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, except that instead of being comprised of three guitars, one violin, and a bass, this ensemble has two guitars (with Frank Vignola playing rhythm behind Byrd), violinist Johnny Frigo, bassist Michael Moore, and Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica. The blend between harmonica and violin is particularly effective, and the repertoire ranges from swing tunes (including Byrd's "Swing '59") to some light Brazilian music, ballads, and standards. Byrd, Frigo, and Meurkens take plenty of fine solos, making this a highly recommended set.
Romanticism, Afro-Latin voicings and classical stylings are the three primary components of this Charlie Byrd's release. It blends his playing with that of Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Jeffrey Meyerriecks, Myrna Sislen and Larry Snitzler, and the quintet members expertly complement and contrast each other on a program of American popular standards, compositions by Vivaldi, Mozart, Antonio Carlos Jobim and three superb interpretations of the Bix Beiderbecke masterpieces "In A Mist," "Candlelights" and "In The Dark." It's more structured than improvisatory, but the playing is so compelling and exquisite that it should appeal to both guitar lovers and music fans generally.
Eclectic is an adjective easily applied to Charlie Byrd. Over the course of his career the guitarist shaped a reputation as a genre-hopping virtuoso who crossed over into Latin, classical, country and popular music camps, while retaining his abiding affection for jazz. His preference for acoustic over-amplified strings also set him apart from his peers. Certain myopic critics saw his versatility as a symptom of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none syndrome. Byrd responded to his skeptics with album after album replete with exemplary technical skill. His choice of material, on the other hand, wasn’t always so ironclad.