Royce Campbell and Gene Bertoncini didn’t try to reproduce guitarist Charlie Byrd’s style on their latest CD A Tribute to Charlie Byrd
. The duo paid their respect to Byrd by selecting compositions that he adored notably by Duke Ellington and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Noted for his elegant strumming, Byrd was also an exponent of Bossa Nova. To authenticate this project, the duo enlisted bassist Keeter Betts, and drummer Chuck Redd. Both were Byrd’s sidemen, and their playing on this CD was ornamental. Suffice to say, neither Campbell nor Bertoncini dominated. They took a soft-step approach, which made this CD placid and pleasant but not dull.
Too often tribute projects fail because the emphasis is on imitation. Last year, for example, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars led by John Faddis, a sleek and powerful trumpeter, performed at Orchestra Hall in Detroit, MI. Faddis spent most of concert imitating Gillespie’s style. By doing so, Faddis lost himself and sort of trivialized Gillespie.
Conversely, on saxophonist David Murray’s CD Octet Plays Trane
, a tribute to John Coltrane, Murray didn’t compromise himself by attempting to channel Coltrane’s personality or spirit. Instead, Murray secularized Coltrane’s India
. Compared to Faddis and Murray Campbell and Bertoncini were largely reserved.
Campbell stroll rather than rush through his solos on Duke Ellington’s Mood Indigo
and Prelude to A Kiss
Bertoncini was dualistic on How Insensitive
. His licks sounded both conversational and apologetic.
Including The Days Of Wine And Rose
, Zing Went The Strings of My Heart
and In A Mellow Tone
, on this recording suggest that Campbell and Bertoncini considered Byrd foremost a romantic.
Their celebration of Charlie Byrd works because the duo believed they could make a tribute project without either contradicting their style, or copying Byrd’s.