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Donald Byrd (1932 - )


Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II (born December 9, 1932) is an American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeter, born in Detroit, Michigan. He performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, he obtained a bachelor's degree in music from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music. While still at the Manhattan School he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, replacing Clifford Brown. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956 he performed with a wide variety of highly regarded jazz musicians

In the 1970s, he moved away from his previous highly-acclaimed traditional jazz base and began to record jazz fusion and rhythm and blues. Teaming up with the Mizell Brothers, he produced 'Black Byrd', which was enormously successful and became Blue Note Records' highest-ever selling album. The follow-up albums, 'Places and Spaces', 'Steppin' Into Tomorrow' and 'Street Lady' were also big sellers, and have subsequently provided a rich source of samples for hip-hop artists such as Us3.

He has taught music at Rutgers University, the Hampton Institute, New York University, and Howard University. In 1974 he created the Blackbyrds, a fusion group consisting of his best students. They scored several major hits, including 'Walking In Rhythm' and 'Blackbyrds Theme'. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Byrd [Feb 2005]

The Mizell brothers [...]

Happy Music

The Mizell brothers (Fonce Mizell, Larry Mizell) collaborated with Donald Byrd on his best tracks.

Garage Faves [...]

'Dominoes' : 'Lansana's Priestess' : 'Rock Creek Park' 'Steppin' Into Tomorrow'

Think Twice

Ever the original sampler, Armand Van Helden used Donald Byrd's Think Twice the basis for his 'Flowez'


Donald Byrd: "Donald Byrd's Soul-Disco Period of the 1970s"
Whenever a jazz artist turns to rock, R&B or pop, jazz's hardcore purists are bound to cry "sellout." In the 1970s, a number of talented jazz improvisers increased their sales considerably by embracing R&B, including George Benson, George Duke, Patrice Rushen and Roy Ayers. Like those artists, trumpeter Donald Byrd experienced scathing attacks by jazz critics when, in the mid-1970s, he moved from electric jazz-fusion to what was basically soul, funk and disco with jazz overtones.

Both Byrd's own albums of the mid-to-late 1970s and albums he produced for his band The Blackbirds (known for hits like "Rock Creek Park," "Walking In Rhythm," "Do it Fluid" and "Happy People") burned up the soul charts and earned him a whole new audience. As many jazz critics saw it, a Clifford Brown disciple had forsaken his roots and resorted to shameless musical prostitution. Unfortunately, such critics really didn't know enough about R&B to determine whether or not the new Byrd had artistic merit--and the fact is that his soul/disco experiments did. If Byrd's goal was to provide creative, interesting music for an R&B audience, he accomplished that goal nicely with "Change (Makes You Wanna Hustle)," "Dominoes," "Steppin' Into Tomorrow" [this is one helluva track] and other hits from that period.

In the late 1980s, Byrd returned to the type of straight-ahead jazz he'd done for Blue Note in the 1950s and 1960s. But for many R&B, funk and disco lovers, he would be best remembered for the 1970s recordings that critics had been quick to condemn. -- Alex Henderson in http://www.allmusic.com


  • http://www.counterpoint-music.com/Catalogues/Jazz/jazz.b/d_byrd/index.html discography with album pictures, also shop

  • Kozmigroov classics
    ELECTRIC BYRD and ETHIOPIAN KNIGHTS are considered to be Kozmigroov classics
  • club classics 1976-1987
    * Blackbyrds - Happy Music 1976
  • Fumihiko Sato
    Love Has Come Around ()
  • Master Cuts, mastercuts records
  • Daniel Wang
    Nicky Siano, Larry Levan and I used to go shopping and pick out things like Lansana's Priestess by Donald Byrd (on the Street Lady album), and Grover Washington, and we'd put those on in the club.


    1. Places and Spaces - Donald Byrd[Amazon.com]
      1. Change (Makes You Want to Hustle) 2. Wind Parade 3. (Fallin' Like) Dominoes 4. Places and Spaces 5. You and the Music 6. Night Whistler 7. Just My Imagination
      This is it folks, the finest music that you could possibly delight your ears with. Places and Spaces defies categorisation because although Byrd himself is a Jazz trumpeter, under the careful and tight production of the Mizzell brothers he becomes so much more. This album fuses Jazz, Soul and even funk - yet the sum of it's parts do not do the final outcome any justice, because this is more than just another "funky" fusion album, Places and Spaces has depth and soul that I have rarely heard on any other albums and added to that there is not a weak track on the entire CD. The title track is probably the best song, it is laid back and smooth like much of the Mizzell brother's work. If you have heard Harlem River Drive by Bobbi Humphrey then you will know what it is all about: laid-back beats with a sublime floating lead-melody with sparse yet soulfull vocals. Falling like Dominoes is another highlight on this album, it is the most up-beat song, and it combines uplifting vocals with a dirty groove that makes you want to get up and dance. My words can not do this album justice, you really need to listen to it for yourself, but suffice it to say that I feel this is the greatest album of all time, and seeing as how it's so diverse there is probably a song on there for everybody whether you like Jazz, Soul, Funk, Disco, Fusion, 80s Groove or even hip-hop(a lot of well-known rap artists have sampled this album to good effect ie. Pete Rock). Long live the Byrd man - he makes me wanna hustle. music fan from Wrexham, UK for amazon.com [A Mizell production.]

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