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Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams: The Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Studio Sessions

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Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams had a very fruitful association beginning in the late ’50s and continuing through the late ’60s. Both came of age in Detroit’s hard bop scene of the early ’50s before teaming up in ’58 in New York. By then, Byrd’s stints with the Jazz Messengers and Max Roach’s band, and recording dates with John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, had made him one of jazz’s hottest young trumpeters. Adams had become a viable hard bop alternative to Gerry Mulligan, even though labels like Savoy released his early records with such misleading titles as The Cool Sound of Pepper Adams. Over the next decade, they recorded 11 albums together, mostly under Byrd’s name, including the six fine Blue Note studio dates collected in this four-disc Mosaic set.

Eight months after making their first live recording for Riverside, Byrd and Adams recorded a sextet session with Jackie McLean, Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones and Art Taylor that is appropriately titled Off to the Races. Byrd and Adams already have considerable skill in tapping the pulse of the times on this December ’58 outing, using cool struttin’ tempos and bluesy march rhythms to build satisfying originals, retooling a memorable tune from a contemporary classic (Sonny Rollins’ “Paul’s Pal,” taken at a slower pace than the Tenor Madness version) and sending standards like “Lover Come Back to Me” into warp drive.

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