This is the status where Donald Byrd’s 1972 record, Street Lady becomes an obsession to the ears and gives way to becoming one of the more progressive funk records with moments of jazz injected into it. Opening with “Lansana’s Priestess,” the curtain made of mostly bellbottoms and velvet is an entryway to this whimsical world where the sun sets and nightfall is soon to come.
The summer of loves and eras of loose freewill was at an end, now the time of more Avant-productions was starting to show themselves with flutes, horns, and more rapid percussion. Byrd who was exceptional on the trumpet forms a coalition with Roger Glenn on the flute and Harvey Mason on the drums. Together, this is a trifecta that perfectly wraps their gracious grasp around the look and feel of the 1970s.
Nearly picturesque as a funk record, the jazz elements while still being released on Blue Note are a step away from the conformity and true fundamentals of sound. The way the guitars from David T. Walker warp and are infused with fuzz give the bass from Chuck Rainey a soapbox to live upon. Really the entire ensemble on Street Lady is a pure gift of overarching grace and beauty.
The following track “Miss Kane” is the flash into the nightlife of a major metropolitan area where those same suits and ties are traded for loose-fitting dress shirts and wide-brimmed hats. At the epicenter of culture, Street Lady is a walk through the busiest dissections of the hippest sections of town.
Almost like a reflection of the times, “Miss Kane” is a rapidly flying mistress whose entertainment comes from the sensual and unchained style that the band adopts behind Byrd. Almost as if he was a master of organization, “Miss Kane” becomes a personal favorite for the lightning speed and ability to shift gears into a world where disco and funk can blend into a smooth cocktail.
Not so much an Old Fashioned, and more of a glass of wine at the end of the late-night, “Woman Of The World,” is the sun returning to those concrete wildernesses. Instead of opting for more of the beauty rather than the ugliness of a jungle, “Woman Of The World” is a lush experience that gives a breather to Street Lady as the night becomes conquered by the dawn.
Over six tracks and through 42-minutes, Street Lady is a rejuvenation of the era where most of the culture class came from. As a snapshot into the 1970s, Donald Byrd takes the audience by the hand and is a gentle lead into a harsh and detached world.