A City Called Heaven is an album by trumpeter Donald Byrd featuring performances recorded in 1991 and released on the Landmark label.
“Byrd’s third and last album for Orrin Keepnews’ Landmark label – Part Three of his mainstream comeback – is another mostly straightahead affair with a sextet, sounding a few high-minded themes and taking a few unusual twists. Twice, Art Blakey is memorialized with drummer Carl Allen’s sturdy application of the Blakey shuffle (“King Arthur,” “Byrd Song”), but his drumming also salutes the M-Base brigade on the concluding “Not Necessarily the Blues.” “A City Called Heaven,” the spiritual-turned-title track with an nearly operatic vocal by mezzo-soprano Lorice Stevens, gets a moving extended modal treatment where Byrd has some rapid flurries that usually, but not always, hit their mark. With an enterprising left turn, Byrd turns the final aria from Henry Purcell’s 17th century opera Dido and Aeneas into “Remember Me” — again with Stevens singing — and it makes a soulful dirge with a jazz sextet. Joe Henderson, still a few months away from becoming a jazz celebrity, returns in typically enigmatic, stimulating form on tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson thoughtfully chips in on vibes; Donald Brown handles the piano well. Not a bad record, though not as unforgettable as his stuff from over two decades before.” – Richard S. Ginell/AllMusic.
All compositions by Donald Byrd except where noted.
“King Arthur” – 8:26
“I’ll Always Remember” – 9:38
“A City Called Heaven” (Traditional) – 10:30
“Buck Down in Lu Easy Anna” (Donald Brown) – 6:49
“Byrd Song” (James Williams) – 6:01
“Del Valle” (Bobby Hutcherson) – 7:20
“Remember Me” (Henry Purcell) – 5:28
“Not Necessarily the Blues” – 7:10
Donald Byrd – trumpet, flugelhorn
Joe Henderson – tenor saxophone
Bobby Hutcherson – vibraphone
Donald Brown – piano
Rufus Reid – bass
Carl Allen – drums
Lorice Stevens – vocals (tracks 3 & 7)
Recorded: January 17–19, 1991
Studio: Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA
Producer: Orrin Keepnews, Donald Byrd