A tribute to Ray Charles, Byrd’s musical hero and major influence, the album is a collection of songs exploring the jazz side of “The Genius”. It also features a 4 piece horn section on half of the tracks, international singing star Lea Gilmore, and Byrd on vocals and piano throughout.
The ERIC BYRD TRIO, together since 1999, has performed for audiences all over the world. Their unique style of jazz has headlined stages from The East Coast Jazz Festival to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The US State Dept./Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassadors have released 2 internationally known CD’s and have recently performed in Bolivia with Paul Carr and Paris, France with Lea Gilmore.
“I’m musically prepared and a bit more mature”, Byrd says in explaining this ambitious new project. “I wrote the horn arrangements, I’m singing on every track except one, and I feel like this is the CD I was destined to make or deal with on some level.” This program of music augments longtime Trio drummer Alphonso Young, Jr. and bassist Bhagwan Khalsa with a stellar horn section: Brad Clements on trumpet, Paul Carr on tenor sax, Lyle Link on alto sax, and Chris Watling on baritone sax. Guitarist Frank McCreary plays on one track and vocalist Lea Gilmore sings on two songs. The group recorded the CD at Foxhaven Studios with Jon Miller in August of 2007.
While some of the songs may not be immediately recognizable to fans of Ray’s hits, the song choices for “Brother Ray” were by design. Byrd responds, “You can’t beat Ray at Ray, so I had no interest in doing some second class version of ‘What’d I Say’ or ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’. I wanted to pay tribute to the person that inspired me to play the piano in the first place by seeing if I could maybe introduce some of his work to the EBT audience. Also, with each recording we want to try to step our game up and see if the listeners come with us; so far, so good!”
Currently, the group is in negotiations with high powered Kari-On Productions in Atlanta to handle publicity and press. Their last 2 releases – “The Eric Byrd Trio” and “Triunity” - have sold extremely well and have been especially popular in Japan, selling several thousand units every few months. “We have a good feeling about this project”, Byrd says, “and so, we want to make sure this project gets to the people. A brief documentary on the philosophy and behind the scenes footage of the making of “Brother Ray” in addition to the regular slate of performances will help accomplish the task.”