Personnel: Donald Byrd (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn); Gary Bartz (soprano & alto saxophones, clarinet); Fonce Mizell (trumpet, clarinet, background vocals); James Carter (whistle); Harvey Mason (mouth harp, drums, bata drum); Jerry Peters (piano, organ); Larry Mizell (Fender Rhodes piano, ARP synthesizer, background vocals); David T. Walker, John Rowin, Rhonghea Southern (guitar); Chuck Rainey (electric bass); Mayuto Correa (congas); Stephanie Spruill (percussion, background vocals); Roger Sainte (percussion); Fred Peren, Margie Evans, Kay Haith, Lorraine Kenner (background vocals).
Producers: Larry Mizell, Fonce Mizell.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Engineers: Dave Hassinger, Val Christian Garay, John Mills.
Recorded at the Sound Factory, Hollywood, California in November & December 1974. Originally released on Blue Note (368).
Personnel: Donald Byrd (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn); James Carter (whistling); David T. Walker, John Rowin (guitar); Harvey Mason, Sr. (harmonica, drums); Gary Bartz (clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Fonce Mizell (clarinet, trumpet, Clavinet, background vocals); Jerry Peters (piano, organ); Larry Mizell (Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer, ARP synthesizer, background vocals); Chuck Rainey (electric bass); Mayuto Correa (congas); Stephanie Spruill (percussion, background vocals); Roger Sainte (percussion); Kay Haith, Freddie Perren, Fred Perrin, Lorraine Kennar, Margie Evans (background vocals).
Audio Remixers: David Hassinger ; Val Garay.
Recording information: The SOund Factory, Hollywood, CA (11/1974-12/1974).
Photographer: Doug Metzler.
Arrangers: Fonce Mizell; Harvey Mason, Sr. ; Sigidi; Larry Mizell.
Beginning with a crack of thunder, like it was made to trail Gary Bartz's "Mother Nature" (actually recorded at a slightly later date), Stepping into Tomorrow contains almost all of the Mizell trademarks within its title track's first 30 seconds: a soft and easy (yet still funky) electric-bass-and-drums foundation, silken rhythm guitar, organ and piano gently bouncing off one another, light synthesizer shading, and coed group vocals to ensure true liftoff. It's only one in a line of many magnetic '70s sessions led by Fonce and Larry Mizell, and it differs from their two previous Donald Byrd dates -- the polarizing and groundbreaking Black Byrd and the deceptively excellent Street Lady -- by not featuring any of Roger Glenn's flute, and by focusing on heavily melodic and laid-back arrangements. Even the speedy "You Are the World," by some distance the most energetic song, seems more suited for relaxing in a hammock than shooting down a freeway. Many of the musicians present on the previous Byrd-Mizell meetings are here, including drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Chuck Rainey, keyboardist Jerry Peters, and guitarist David T. Walker. As ever, those who pined for the approach of Byrd's '60s dates would tune out a sublime set of material, but maybe some of those who sniffed at the straightforward nature of some of the rhythms and riffing were won over by the supreme layering of the many components (the way in which "Think Twice" lurches forward, peels back, and gathers steam is nothing short of heavenly), not to mention some deeply evocative playing from Byrd himself. ~ Andy Kellman