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Mustang! (1966)

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Hank Mobley

Donald Byrd, a talented hard bop trumpeter during his prime (although rarely reaching the technical heights of Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard), performs a varied repertoire on Mustang!. "Dixie Lee" has dated rhythms, and "Mustang" was an attempt to achieve a hit on the level of Morgan's "The Sidewinder." However, Byrd sounds fine on those numbers; he digs into the complex chord changes of "Fly Little Bird Fly," is sensitive on "I Got It Bad," swings on his "I'm So Excited by You," and performs his memorable countermelody to "On the Trail," which had been recorded earlier by several other musicians. Teamed with a typically impressive Blue Note crew (altoist Sonny Red, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Freddie Waits), Byrd performs high-quality straight-ahead jazz that fits the modern mainstream of the era. Also on the CD reissue are a pair of selections ("Gingerbread Boy" and "I'm So Excited by You") from an earlier quintet date (with tenorman Jimmy Heath, Tyner, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Joe Chambers) that, despite being excellent, went unissued until 1997. ~ Scott Yanow