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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 4. 22 March 1972

Charlie Byrd: Guitar Artistry Riverside

Charlie Byrd: Guitar Artistry Riverside

In recent years when guitars have come equipped with successively more sophisticated hardware, we rarely hear the instrument as just naked wood and strings.

Who nowadays plays in a modern idiom without even an amplifier? Charlie Byrd is one of the few jazz guitarists to learn his craft from sources other than jazz. Byrd found his inspiration in both folk music and the classics.

He studied the classical guitar with Sophocles Papas and Andres Segoria, and learned the literature of traditional guitar from 16th and 17th century Europe to modern Latin American concert music. But he also heard folk music - flamenco, Hungarian and the Country Blues.

There are instances when you can point to these influences in his playing, but the guitar as instrument appears to be Byrd's real influence. He thinks guitar - its tone, its chords, its rhythms and how they are produced. His successderives from his technicalability to say what he thinks and feels about his instrument.

In contrast with most other contemporary forms of music, Byrd's jazz has nothing to say. It's pure revelry and of a quiet, light and easy kind, but conducive to catharsis nonetheless, by its pure rhythms and striking clarity. And it comes as one helluva relief from the harshness of a lot of rock.

For a while the album struck me as being dated - it seemed too sweet and rosy - the way the world looked from bible class coffee bars. Its also the sort of music that can slip into the background very easily. There are no obtrusive musical obscenities. Charlie Byrd uses an unfamiliar lead instrument in jazz, but still this is perfectly honest and good music.

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