Charlie Byrd: For Louis

When Charlie Byrd passed away at the end of 1999, he left a unique legacy that included having played instrumental roles in helping introduce the nylon-string guitar to jazz and bossa nova to North America. Although he enjoyed a great deal of popularity over the course of his lengthy career, his versatility, which encompassed classical, Latin, jazz, blues, country and more, arguably was never fully appreciated due to the subtle, understated nature of his approach.

Recorded just months before his death, the material on this CD salutes one of his own idols, Louis Armstrong. It especially exhibits Byrd’s love for great tunes, a theme that ran throughout his recorded work. While he could play appropriately pretty, as he does on “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” and “Autumn in New York,” he could also swing and get lowdown. With able assistance from drummer Chuck Redd, bassist Dennis Irwin and pianist Robert Redd, Byrd grooves his way through “Rosetta” and “Remembering Louis Armstrong,” contributing a couple of very nice blues-tinged solos. And his trademark Latin approach can be enjoyed on “Petite Fleur” and elsewhere.

In addition to being a world-class guitarist, Byrd was a central figure in the greater Washington, D.C., guitar scene, a talented arranger, composer and an all-around decent human being. He is already sorely missed.