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July/August 2005

Charlie Byrd
Homage to Jobim: Live at the Fujitsu-Concord 26th Jazz Festival
Concord Picante

You'd think the last thing we needed is another set of Brazilian Byrd, but this live set from the 26th Fujitsu-Concord Jazz Festival in 1994 offers an uncommon collective sound in the Charlie Byrd discography.

Just do what you're bound to do anyhow: Skip straight to "Desafinado" and listen to clarinetist Ken Peplowski and harmonica player Hendrik Muerkens turn the old jukebox bossa banger into something that sounds more bayou-bred than Brazil-baked. And let's hope you like the Peps-Muerk combo, because it carries all seven tracks, lending Jobim tunes like "Once I Loved" and "Chega da Saudade" a wide-eyed tone they're rarely treated with.

As for the leader, well, he's on the album, but his solos, though masterfully conceived, run too short and his comping doesn't reside high in the mix. Homage to Jobim honors the work of an important composer in a sonically unique context, but it isn't the Byrd bath fans might be looking for.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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