Personnel: Charlie Byrd (acoustic & electric guitars); Barry Harris (piano); Keter Betts (bass); Buddy Deppenschmidt (drums).
Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York, New York on October 23, 1961.
Though recorded on one day, at standard length for an LP, this is really two albums in one sleeve, showcasing two rather different formats for this highly original guitarist to pursue. "The Blues Sonata" is set up in a pseudo-classical three-movement manner, with a polonaise, ballad, and scherzo, and the liner notes refer to a sonata form of development. Well, sorry, but the classical trappings, if any exist, are worn very lightly by Byrd, his bassist Keter Betts, and drummer Buddy Deppenschmidt. "Polonaise Pour Pietro" t'ain't nothin' the blues, and a very fluid blues workout at that. "Ballade in B Minor" is Chopinesque in melodic influence only, including the brush-stroked improvisation segment, and "Scherzo for an Old Shoe" sets up as a Latinish number, then stays on one chord with an Andalusian strain. On side two, the scene abruptly becomes very urbane as Byrd switches to electric guitar, takes on Barry Harris' comping, bopping piano, and engages in straightforward swinging and balladeering without any textbook definitions getting in the way. "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Jordu," and "Zing! Went the Strings on My Heart" are the merry swingers, "That Ole Devil Called Love" the relaxed ballad showcase. Whatever you call the music, the whole CD goes down easily and musically. ~ Richard S. Ginell