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Charlie Byrd

Tasteful, low-key, and ingratiatingly melodic, Charlie Byrd had two notable accomplishments to his credit -- applying acoustic classical guitar techniques to jazz and popular music and helping to introduce Brazilian music to mass North American audiences. Born into a musical family, Byrd experienced his first brush with greatness while a teenager in France during World War II, playing with his idol Django Reinhardt. After some postwar gigs with Sol Yaged, Joe Marsala and Freddie Slack, Byrd temporarily abandoned jazz to study classical guitar with Sophocles Papas in 1950 and Andrés Segovia in 1954. However he re-emerged later in the decade gigging around the Washington D.C. area in jazz settings, often splitting his sets into distinct jazz and classical segments. He started recording for Savoy as a leader in 1957, and also recorded with the Woody Herman Band in 1958-59. A tour of South America under the aegis of the U.S. State Department in 1961, proved to be a revelation, for it was in Brazil that Byrd discovered the emerging bossa nova movement. Once back in D.C., he played some bossa nova tapes to Stan Getz, who then convinced Verve's Creed Taylor to record an album of Brazilian music with himself and Byrd. That album, Jazz Samba, became a pop hit in 1962 on the strength of the single "Desafinado" and launched the bossa nova wave in North America. Thanks to the bossa nova, several albums for Riverside followed, including the defining Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros, and he was able to land a major contract with Columbia, though the records from that association often consisted of watered-down easy listening pop. In 1973, he formed the group Great Guitars with Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel and also that year, wrote an instruction manual for the guitar that has become widely used. From 1974 onward, Byrd recorded for the Concord Jazz label in a variety of settings, including sessions with Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank. He died December 2, 1999 after a long bout with cancer. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Dazzling
four4peaks8
still smooth a sound that will always be.....
wow!!!love him!!!what rhythm!!
Charlie was an innovator. He left us a wonderful legacy.
It was ever a treat to see Charlie and his group at the Showboat Lounge and later at the remarkably intimate King of France Tavern in the basement of the Maryland Inn in Annapolis. Memories that last forever. He lives on with his recordings still as fresh and enjoyable as hearing him live lo those many years ago.
Would like to know if I can find some DVD of his live concert.
The integrity and greatness of the Brazilian sound is equal to the integrity and greatness of the Big Band era. I have witnessed the majic of Charlie Byrd at his club in DC in the early 1960's with many nights over the year I was stationed there, and in the late 1970's at Disney( two whole weeks every night) what an experience. I miss his style and mastery of the guitar. Thank you Charlie for bringing this great sound to the US.
love Charlie Byrd, I wish there were more like him.....
The Great Guitars came to Oklahoma City once when I was newly married. I went to hear them wihout the wife and got more than my money's worth. She lovers their work today. What players do to guitars and their overdrive amplifiers today is sad indeed. Samba forever!
Charlie Byrd's Homage To Jobim is one of THE best albums, if not the BEST album, EVER! It is what the Creator had in mind for mankind when He/She first conceived of Music!
I was in Cannes France spring of 58.Was introduced to Charlie and James Brown the same day. Both gone now. Nobody does it like they did. Damn to have some good music again. I must be getting old !
pwclapp7
I've been listening to Charlie Byrd since the 50s - my parents had the "Byrd on the Wind" album, and I wore it out. Now I wear out the CD. No one plays like him - I can recognize his music in two bars.
I like what Carlos has to say, below. I remember Byrd's music and his influence on Bossa Nova in the states back in the 60s. He brought a great dimension of the jazz element to it. And still, very much desired!
My first guitar teacher, Gordon Kreplin, had a Teacher John Marlow who taught at American University. I was blessed with the good fortune of 2 summers of lessons with John. John and Charlie were good friends and frequently played duets. I heard one of the last one on the canal at georgetown. John has also passed away and there is a competition in his name not
rfhazel
I had the pleasure of hearing Charlie in DC at the Showboat, Silver Springs Md at the Byrds Nest and other venues in Beverly MA, Roanoke VA, and Georgetown MD. He hever ceased to be a genius of the guitar. His classical style in a jazz idiom was so satisfying to the ears. He occasionally played straigh electric guitar with a plectrum. He could have had a successful career with that instrument too.
dbrou23
An amazing and talented craftsman who never fails to delight. Its like he spent a lifetime pursuing one thing only to find a different door opened to him and an even better prize waiting there. His ability to bring the Brazilian sound to jazz and then to popular music is incredible. A great listen, anytime.
When I was a midshipman in 1963, the ship's wardroom had Byrd's Birdland album on the record player. I loved it then and it is refreshing and unique today. Great to listen...and dance to.
Wow. neat, Must of been an exciting time to see bossa come to the States. This must be where it began to become known around the world for the great genre that it is. Super interesting to see how music travels and who "discovers" it and brings it to the masses. It is a very satisfactory fact to learn about Charlie Byrd's life and his encounter with Bossa Nova. Funny to say, but this music has changed my musical horizon and has brought me many special moments and continues to produce inspirati
Charlie Byrd is the best!!

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