Yesterday brought upon us the birthday of the late, great, sir Donald Byrd. Mr. Byrd passed away on February 4th, 2013 at the age of 80. He is celebrated as one of the most influential jazz trumpeters to emerge from the bebop era, and his career spanned more than forty years.
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A tenacious proponent of music education, the Detroit native taught for many years at Howard University, where he initiated the group the Blackbyrds, which consisted of students from his class. Mr. Byrd was the first well-known professional jazz musician to hire a young Herbie Hancock.
I was introduced to the luscious sounds of Donald Byrd in high school. I listened to "Rock Creek Park" (performed by the Blackbyrds and produced by Donald Byrd) and was immediately hooked. Byrd adapted with the times effortlessly while preserving his style, moving through bebop to funk as if it were a stitch on a seam. From "A New Perspective" to "Ethiopian Nights" to "Stepping Into Tomorrow" there is no denying his musical prowess.
Although it's a day late, happy birthday Donald Byrd and thank you for all of the tasteful compositions you shared with this world.
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Below are some tunes by the man himself, Donald Byrd, enjoy!