Stepping Into Tomorrow (Blue Note)

Reviewed by Ron Saranich

It's hard to believe that such a highly acclaimed jazz musician like Donald Byrd, could ever have released Stepping Into Tomorrow, but the proof is in my cd player. Trumpeter Byrd's main influences are Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, and the man has played with such greats as John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Sonny Rollins, and Thelonius Monk, to name just a few. He even has a Ph.D. from Columbia University. A resume like that raises my expectations. I know that his 1973 jazz-soul album, Black Byrd, is Blue Note's best-selling LP of all time. But that one is immanently listenable compared to the funk-filled cross-over music of Stepping Into Tomorrow, which was released the year after Black Byrd. Byrd, who wrote only one of eight songs, plays few solos. All the music is heavy on synthesizers, organs, funky drumming, and cocktail bar guitar. In short, this album is a dud. If you want to hear Byrd in his prime, pick up Byrd In Flight or Byrd At The Half Note Cafe Vol. 1 & 2, both from 1960. If you must hear this cd - take my copy, please.

© 2000 - Ron Saranich