R.I.P. Donald Byrd – Jazz Legend Dies at 80

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We are sad to report that jazz, funk and soul legend Donald Byrd, has died at the age of 80.  This incredibly talented musician left an indelible mark on popular music that will continue to resonate.  Having been sampled by some of hip hop’s most notable artists, the legends sound changed the way we heard jazz and we are blessed to have received his gift. R.I.P.

According to GlobalGrind.com:

Legendary trumpeter Donald Byrd passed away on Feb. 4, his nephew confirmed today.

There is no exact word on how the jazz music aficionado died.

Byrd’s nephew, musician Alex Bugnon, took to Facebook to confirm the rumors of death, which had been circulating for several days.

“I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family,” read Bugnon’s post.

While Byrd was a product of jazz music, his influence on hip-hop is undeniable. Rappers and musicians have sampled his music heavily over the years.Donald-Byrd-Word

Large Professor flipped Byrd’s “Think Twice” for Main Source’s hit “Looking At The Front Door” and so did Q-Tip/A Tribe Called Quest for “Footprints.”

But what Byrd is most known for is his great work recorded for the legendary Blue Note Records. In the ’70s, his collaborations with the Mizell Brothers resulted in jazz-tinged R&B, which made for some funky albums like 1975’s Places & Spaces.

The aforementioned contains heavily sampled records like “Wind Parade” (Black Moon “Buck Em Down,” Organized Konfusion “Stray Bullet”) and “Dominoes” (DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince “Brand New Funk”).

Byrd will be greatly missed.

Here are some of our favorite Donald Byrd tunes:

Think Twice

Dominoes

Wind Parade

Here is more information about Donald Byrd for those less familiar:

From AllMusic.com:

Donald Byrd was considered one of the finest hard bop trumpeters of the post-Clifford Brown era. He recorded prolifically as both a leader and sideman from the mid-’50s into the mid-’60s, most often for Blue Note, where he established a reputation as a solid stylist with a clean tone, clear articulation, and a knack for melodicism. Toward the end of the ’60s, Byrd became fascinated with Miles Davis‘ move into fusion, and started recording his own forays into the field. In the early ’70s, with the help of brothers Larry and Fonce Mizell, Byrd perfected a bright, breezy, commercially potent take on fusion that was distinct from Davis, incorporating tighter arrangements and more of a smooth soul influence. Opinions on this phase of Byrd‘s career diverge wildly — jazz purists utterly despised it, branding Byrd a sellout and the records a betrayal of talent, but enraptured jazz-funk fans regard it as some of the most innovative, enduring work of its kind. In fact, proportionately speaking, Byrd is held in even higher esteem by that audience than by straight-ahead jazz fans who enjoy his hard bop output. Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II was born in Detroit, MI, on December 9, 1932. His father, a Methodist minister, was an amateur musician, and Byrd was already an accomplished trumpeter by the time he finished high school, having performed with Lionel Hampton. Byrd served a stint in the Air Force, during which time he played in a military band, and subsequently completed his bachelor’s degree in music at Wayne State University in 1954. He moved to New York in 1955 to get his master’s at the Manhattan School of Music, and soon began performing with pianist George Wallington‘s group. In December of that year, he was invited to join Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers, filling a chair once held by his idol, Clifford Brown, and Kenny Dorham. Byrd also began his recording career during this period, leading several sessions (mostly for Savoy) and working often as a sideman, particularly at the Prestige label. He left the Jazz Messengers in 1956 and joined up with Max Roach; he went on to play with the likes of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Red Garland, and also co-founded the Jazz Lab Quintet with altoist Gigi Gryce in 1957. FULL BIO

 

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