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13 A lthough they seldom performed together in Detroit as teenagers, trumpeter Donald Byrd and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams established an enduring musical partnership in their late twenties that coalesced a few years after both had moved to New York City. Their first New York gig was probably at the Cafe Bohemia in early February 1958.Later that month,they were paired as the front line for a Thelonious Monk studio recording, just as they began a residency at the Five Spot that lasted until June. Already in demand as a dynamic frontline duo, their four-month run (with Detroiters Doug Watkins and Elvin Jones) gave them the opportunity to launch the Byrd-Adams Quintet as a working group. Riverside Records recorded them live in April.Six months later,the band would record Off to the Races, its first of a series of recordings for Blue Note Records that cemented the band’s place in jazz history. Donald Byrd (born in 1932) was two years younger than Adams.Both did their military service, but Byrd had the fortune of being based close to New York City, which allowed him to meet musicians like Max Roach and John Lewis. Like Adams, he played the Blue Bird Inn, located at 5021 Tireman on Detroit’s west side, with the house band, and it is very likely that they shared that stage at some point. Byrd’s first recording as a leader was with the Blue Bird band in August 1955 (First Flight, originally on Transition records) but was actually recorded at the New World Stage. The band included Barry Harris and tenorist Yusef Lateef. By December 1955, Byrd had gotten his big break when he joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in New York. In the summer of 1958, however, directly after the lengthy Five Spot engagement, Donald Byrd toured Europe with Watkins and Belgian tenor saxophonist Bobby Jaspar. Adams, for his part, accepted a six-week engagement with Benny Goodman. Again, in early 1959, the ByrdAdams Quintet would be shelved in favor of Byrd and Adams’s four-month commitment to the Thelonious Monk Big Band (culminating with the influential Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall date for Riverside). This on-again/off-again schedule would characterize the early history of the quintet, from mid-1958 well into 1960. Because steady work wasn’t available for the group’s first two and a half years as a unit, Byrd and Adams continued to take gigs as sidemen while also maintaining active careers as solo artists. From 1958 to 1961, Byrd and Adams were busy indeed, working and recording in many settings. Besides their membership in Monk’s orchestra in early 1959, Adams did two tours with Benny Goodman and another with Chet Baker before May 1959, when the Byrd-Adams Quintet recorded Byrd in Hand, their second date for Blue Note. By then, the quintet had already worked two weeks at New York’s Village Vanguard. In October 1959, the band The Donald Byrd–Pepper Adams Quintet Jazz in Detroit, 1958–61 Gary Carner 14 deTroıT jazz was touring again, this time playing gigs in Toronto and Pittsburgh. In the spring of 1960, the Byrd-Adams Quintet (including Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones) recorded three tunes for a stereophonic sampler project for Warwick Records. Before that, Byrd, without Adams, had worked his way from New York to San Francisco and back while Adams formed a short-lived quintet with tenor saxophonist J. R. Monterose. But by July 1960, the quintet’s superb rhythm section of Duke Pearson, Laymon Jackson, and Lex Humphries had coalesced. And with Adams back in the group, the quintet began its incarnation as a steadily working ensemble.A threemonth tour took the band to Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh, then back to Chicago and Detroit before returning to New York in late October. During the group’s two-month stint in Chicago (that would extend into January 1961), pianist Herbie Hancock was hired to replace Duke Pearson. This was Hancock’s first gig outside of Chicago with a touring band. Hancock moved from Chicago to New York to join the group. Back in New York, the quintet recorded again for Warwick,then toured for most of the year before disbanding in October.In February and March 1961, the group gigged throughout the eastern United States and Canada, working at the New Showboat in Philadelphia...


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