Charlie Byrd Day

September 16, 1925 – December 2, 1999


A tribute to the bossa-nova guitarist

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Guitarist Charlie Byrd was born on September 16, 1925 in Suffolk, Virginia.

He began playing the acoustic steel guitar when he was ten, served in the Army during World War II, and, after his discharge, he settled in New York where he studied at the Harnett National Music School.

Byrd was originally a classical guitarist, studying extensively in Washington D.C. during the first half of the 1950s including with Andres Segovia in Italy.

Influenced by Django Reinhardt and, to a lesser extent, Charlie Christian, Byrd had his own sound and style on the acoustic guitar when he began playing regularly in Washington D.C.

He visited Brazil and South America on a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour in 1961, discovered and fell in love with bossa-nova, and soon told Stan Getz about the new music.

Their joint recording Jazz Samba was released in 1962 and launched the bossa-nova craze in the United States.

Byrd recorded many other albums in a similar vein through the years, featuring his gentle sound on bossa novas, bop and swing-oriented jazz, and classical themes, and also holding his own with Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis in their group The Great Guitars in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Charlie Byrd stayed active up until his death in 1999 at the age of 74.

Here is Charlie Byrd performing “Shiny Stockings” in New Orleans in 1993.


Charlie Byrd, guitar
Joe Byrd, bass
Chuck Redd, drums

-Scott Yanow


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