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Brother Ray

Warning: Jazz content! I've gotta give props to my friend Eric Byrd. Eric is a composer and pianist who specializes in Jazz. His fourth album was just released, and it's called Brother Ray. It's a tribute album to Ray Charles, one of Eric's primary musical influences. The album focuses on Charles' jazz stuff, and it's fantastic. I bought it earlier this week at one of his gigs (he plays a lot in Westminster, MD, where he and I both live.) It swings like crazy!

Eric's a terrific musician, and has played at Blues Alley in Washington D.C., the premiere Jazz club in the region. He's toured internationally, and regularly plays at Jazz festivals on the East Coast. He's really started to build something with his talented trio, and deserves much wider recognition than he currently has. I think his latest album could catapult him there. It's got a lot more horns than his previous albums, and is lushly produced.

I especially love his drummer, Al Young. As a 'weekend hacker'-type drummer myself, I pay special attention to the drums. Al is incredible, almost intimidatingly good; if I could ever get to be half the drummer he is, I would consider it a monumental achievement (not that I ever expect to reach that level).

Eric, Al and Bhagwan Khalsa, who plays a superb acoustic bass, have been playing together for a long time, and it shows. If you're ever in the D.C.-Baltimore area and can hear them live, do yourself a favor and get to a gig. They love playing together, and it shows.

His earlier albums are also terrific, and worth checking out. Most of his stuff is also available via iTunes.

And in case you're wondering, I don't get a cent if you buy a song or album. I just love Jazz and want to turn as many people on to it as possible. Check out Brother Ray; you won't regret it.

Posted by Keith Ward on 02/09/2008 at 12:48 PM


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