First Listen: Hubert Laws and Kathy Kosins celebrate Byrd

(March 31, 2020) Trumpeter Donald Byrd’s recording of the album Fancy Free and the title track served as a reintroduction. It’s not that Byrd was new on the scene in 1970, so why did he have to  be reintroduced? Byrd made his name playing hard bop, playing with people such as John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk and as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He became a band leader in his own right through the 50s and 60s, releasing a series of albums that featured sidemen such as Herbie Hancock and songs like “Cristo Redentor” that have become jazz standards.

Fancy Free saw Byrd’s emergence as one of straight-ahead jazz’s early adapters of the fusion movement. Byrd became one of the few be-bop and hard bop artists who successfully transitioned to fusion and R&B, joining a list that included Wes Montgomery, Hancock, Miles Davis, George Benson and Quincy Jones.

(March 31, 2020) Trumpeter Donald Byrd’s recording of the album Fancy Free and the title track served as a reintroduction. It’s not that Byrd was new on the scene in 1970, so why did he have to  be reintroduced? Byrd made his name playing hard bop, playing with people such as John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk and as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He became a band leader in his own right through the 50s and 60s, releasing a series of albums that featured sidemen such as Herbie Hancock and songs like “Cristo Redentor” that have become jazz standards.

Fancy Free saw Byrd’s emergence as one of straight-ahead jazz’s early adapters of the fusion movement. Byrd became one of the few be-bop and hard bop artists who successfully transitioned to fusion and R&B, joining a list that included Wes Montgomery, Hancock, Miles Davis, George Benson and Quincy Jones.

So it no surprise that Kathy Kosins, a vocalist with jazz, pop and R&B chops, who performed with Was (Not Was) and Michael Henderson to name a few, would reimagine this tune with lyrics in this cover that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the album. “Fancy Free” features Kosins’ vocals with an all-star cast of collaborators including flautist Hubert Laws, with Paul Randolph writing the lyrics. Randolph and Kamau Kenyatta produced the track.

Laws earned accolades for his work in the straight-ahead jazz, classical and fusion world for more than five decades. Kenyatta is best known for being the producer for two-time Grammy Award winning singer Gregory Porter, but he is also a musician and an educator who teaches at the University of California San Diego. Randolph is a bassist, singer and songwriter who is perhaps best known for his work with Jazzanova.

They combine to create a track that keeps the free-flowing optimism that characterized Byrd’s jazz fusion original while transforming “Fancy Free” into an R&B song. Check it out here.

By Howard Dukes

Kathy Kosins feat. Hubert Laws
"Fancy Free"

 

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