Donald Byrd – Live: Cookin’ with Blue Note at Montreux July 5, 1973
In the summer of 1973, Blue Note Records set up a showcase of its artists at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
All of the performances were recorded and many were released shortly thereafter. Nearly half a century
later, trumpeter Donald Byrd’s five-song set is finally available.
At the time, Byrd was enjoying success from the fusion album Black Byrd, his first collaboration with the
Mizell brothers. Larry and Fonce Mizell found success with many jazz artists in the 1970s, including
Bobbi Humphrey and Gary Bartz. While their glossy, synth-heavy productions were popular with the
general public, jazz purists and critics blanched
While both Mizell brothers were part of Byrd’s 10-piece band at Montreux, the performance is
considerably more raw and in-your-face than their recent studio output. This quickly becomes evident
on the opening number, “Black Byrd.” The studio sheen disappears onstage, leaving a hot slab of funk-
jazz. Byrd and his band stay in this soulful vein for the next number, a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You’ve
Got It Bad Girl.”
After the funkified workout of “The East,” a Byrd composition that never found its way into the studio,
the R&B grooves slink to the background for the final two numbers. “Kwame” builds off Larry Mizell’s
synthesizers into a dense wall of sound. “Poco-Mania” rides a Latin rhythm into heavy stack of horns.
Why this strong 45-minute set was locked away for so long is anyone’s guess. Fans of funky jazz and
jazzy funk will be glad Cookin’ with Blue Note at Montreux is finally available.-Joel Francis