Fancy Free finds him catching the front edge of jazz’s shift toward fusion, with a much gentler and more approachable result than some of his peers produced. Its innovations lie in its source material: Fancy Free adapts the vernacular of funk and R&B more than it does that of rock, the inspiration for most jazz fusion records that are considered canon. Hindsight so often being 20/20, Byrd’s take on fusion — work that was then greeted skeptically — is looking more and more prescient. “I’m not trying to be avant-garde or a hippie,” the then 37-year-old Byrd explained. “I’m me, and a lot of different things interest me at different times. And since I’m not pressing to be something other than myself, the sessions come out as relaxed as I can make them. As this one did.”