AUSTIN BYRD

Austin Byrd Trio

I'm very excited and proud to share my debut album "Liftoff!" with you! This was an incredibly rewarding project and I can't thank my good friends Brian Ward (bass) and Abe Lagrimas, Jr (drums) for their invaluable musical contributions and friendship. This album would not be what it is without their time and talent. Purchase here

Read the review by Downbeat and Jazz Times critic Scott Yanow:

Austin Byrd, a significant up-and-coming jazz pianist, graduated from the University of North Texas and spent a year touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Now based in Long Beach, he is a modern player who on his debut CD as a leader, Liftoff!, displays both versatility plenty of talent.

Byrd, who is featured in a trio with bassist Brian Ward and drummer Abe Lagrimas, Jr, contributed all seven compositions. The opener, "Bernstein's Dilemma," is dedicated to guitarist Peter Bernstein. It has an attractive melody and a chord sequence that is similar to "Whispering" or "Groovin' High" except that it adds on an advanced bridge. On this piece and the medium-tempo blues ("Blue Byrd") that follows, Byrd shows how swinging and creative he is at playing joyful classic bebop. "January" moves the music up to late 1960s Blue Note. Ward's bass pattern keeps the tune catchy throughout while Byrd builds up his solo quite logically.

"The Drift" is a real change-of-pace, an episodic work that begins as a somber ballad before becoming electric. Austin Byrd switches to electric keyboards and plays some spacey ideas on top of the assertive electric bass. The performance becomes more energetic as it evolves before returning to its earlier mood. While Byrd in his liner notes says that this piece portrays the zone between sleeping and waking when odd things can happen, it also sounds a bit like an outer space journey.

The introspective ballad "Someone Somewhere" brings the music down to earth, featuring some fine interplay between Byrd and bassist Ward. "Going With You," a tribute to Pat Metheny, is a thoughtful ballad with statements that take their time. Liftoff! concludes with the title cut, an uptempo original similar to the bop era's "Half Nelson." Once again the pianist is inventive within the earlier style while playing in his own voice. Throughout the CD, bassist Brian Ward excels both as an occasional soloist and a stimulating accompanist while drummer Abe Lagrimas, Jr. keeps the uptempo pieces driving while adding color to the ballads.

Liftoff! is an impressive debut by Austin Byrd that will be enjoyed by anyone interested in swinging straight ahead jazz and sophisticated ballads.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including Jazz On Record 1917-76 and Jazz On Film.

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Liftoff! Samples:

As a sideman:

I can also be heard on the following albums: