Charlie Byrd – The Christmas Album (1982)

frontcover1Charlie Byrd performs 14 Christmas songs on this set as quiet and generally introspective solo guitar recitals. The music is well played, as one would expect, but there is not much variety in mood; all of the renditions are under three minutes, and humor is absent in favor of reverence. Pleasant and sincere background music. (by Scott Yanow)

Charlie Byrd is best known for two things: his incorporation of classical acoustic guitar techniques and sensibility in his jazz playing – and – playing a major role along with Stan Getz and others in popularizing the bossa nova beyond the shores of Brazil in the 1960’s. This CD of all-time Christmas favourites focuses on the classical acoustic guitar techniques and sensibilities. If you are looking for jazz or bossa nova Christmas music, you need to look elsewhere.

Charlie plays 13 songs in a no-frills, straight forward style. Some are traditional carols, some are more modern secular Christmas songs, and a few are relatively obscure Christmas songs (such as ‘Lully, Lullaby’ and ‘Coventry Carol’). It is this mix of songs that makes this so enjoyable. The songs you played more or less how you have heard them a thousand times, which makes them perfect if you want to sing along. Indeed, the liner notes contain the lyrics to the songs so you can sing along. The thing that separates these recordings from being mere background music is the fact that Charlie has impeccable taste and outstanding technique. So if you are a guitarist, pay close attention because this man studied for a year under Andres Segovia. And let us not forget that ‘Silent Night’ was written by Franz Gruber to be played on guitar in 1818.
These recordings were made in 1982 and have great sound quality. Charlie made an earlier Christmas album, 1967’s Christmas Carols for Solo Guitar that is also worth exploring.(by D.R.L.)

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Personnel:
Charlie Byrd (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. O Come All Ye Faithful (Traditional) 2.15
02. Deck The Halls (Traditional) 1.52
03. Mistletoe And Holly (Stanford/Sinatra/Sanicola) 2.56
04. Lully, Lullay (Traditional) 1.09
05. What Child Is This? (Dix) 2.05
06. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Wesley/Mendelssohn) 2.27
07. The Christmas Song (Tormé/Wells) 2.45
08. In The Bleak Midwinter (Rossetti/Holst) 2.07
09. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional) 1.55
10. Oh Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum) (Traditional) 1.58
11. White Christmas (Berlin) 2.19
12. Angels We Have Heard On High (Traditional) 2.24
13. The Holly And The Ivy (Traditional) 1.51
14. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Martin/Blane) 2.59

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Charlie Byrd – Hollywood Byrd (1967)

FrontCover1Tasteful, 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.(by Richard S. Ginell)

This is a perfect set for casual listeners, who should also investigate his classic albums for the Riverside label. This album includes many of all these Hollywood movies from that period. A perfect easy listening lbum !

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Personnel:
Charlie Byrd (guitar)
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unknown orchestra and chorus

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Tracklist:
01. A Time For Love (Webster/Mandel) 2.25
02. Georgy Girl (Dale/Springfield) 1.43
03. Alfie (Bacharach/David) 2.44
04. Wishing Doll (Bernstein/David) 3.03
05. Wish Me A Rainbow (Evans/Livingston) 1.56
06. Born Free (Barry) 2.13
07. In The Arms Of Love (Evans/Livingston/Mancini) 2.07
08. Any Wednesday (M.Berman/A.Bergman/Duning) 2.10
09. Moment To Moment (Mancini/Mercer) 3.07
10. I’ll Be Back (Wayne/Weisman) 2.39

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