Guitarist-composer Charlie Byrd is best known for his key role (along with the late Stan Getz) in introducing bossa nova to American audiences in 1962. Since that watershed date, Byrd (1925-1999) has distinguished himself as one of the most eclectic of stylists, essaying everything from Bix Beiderbecke and the Gershwins to Jobim and Vivaldi.
Classical Byrd collects two long-unavailable LPs for the Washington label, a Riverside subsidiary. Approximately half of this collection is comprised of courtly dances or rougher folk pieces written by little-known Spanish composers in the mid-16th century, or late Renaissance period; the balance of the program, Roncalli's "Four Suites," dates from the late 17th century, or early Baroque period, and foreshadows the polyphonic innovations of J.S. Bach.
Byrd plays these works with great delicacy, logic, and abiding warmth. Classical Byrd is at once a superb introduction to two overlooked musical genres and a testament to the guitarist's artistry and erudition.