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Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd

American musician
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American musician
Countries United States of America
Occupations Trumpeter Music educator Jazz musician
Gender male
Birth December 9, 1932 (Dover)
Death February 4, 2013 (Dover)
Education Wayne State University, Columbia University, Cass Technical High School, Teachers College, Manhattan School of Music
The details
Biography

Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture "Donald" Byrd II (December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013) was an American jazz and rhythm & blues trumpeter.
A sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was best known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist.
As a bandleader, Byrd is also notable for his influential role in the early career of keyboard player and composer Herbie Hancock.

Biography

Early life and career

Byrd attended Cass Technical High School. He performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, Byrd 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, as replacement for Clifford Brown. In 1955, he recorded with Gigi Gryce Jackie McLean and Mal Waldron. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956, he performed with many leading jazz musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, and later Herbie Hancock.

Byrd's first regular group was a quintet that he co-led from 1958 to 1961 with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, an ensemble whose hard-driving performances are captured "live" on At the Half Note Cafe.

Byrd's 1961 LP Royal Flush marked the Blue Note debut of Hancock, who came to wider attention with Byrd's successful 1962 album Free Form, and these albums also featured the first recordings of Hancock's original compositions. Hancock has credited Byrd as a key influence in his early career, recounting that he took the young pianist "under his wings" when he was a struggling musician newly arrived in New York, even letting him sleep on a hide-a-bed in his Bronx apartment for several years

"He was the first person to let me be a permanent member of an internationally known band. He has always nurtured and encouraged young musicians. He's a born educator, it seems to be in his blood, and he really tried to encourage the development of creativity".

Hancock also recalled that Byrd helped him in many other ways: he encouraged Hancock to make his debut album for Blue Note, connected him with Mongo Santamaria, who turned Hancock's tune "Watermelon Man" into a chart-topping hit, and that Byrd also later urged him to accept Miles Davis' offer to join his quintet.

Hancock also credits Byrd with giving him one of the most important pieces of advice of his career – not to give away his publishing. When Blue Note offered Hancock the chance to record his first solo LP, label executives tried to convince him to relinquish his publishing in exchange for being able to record the album, but he stuck to Byrd's advice and refused, so the meeting came to an impasse. At this point, he stood up to leave and when it became clear that he was about to walk out, the executives relented and allowed him to retain his publishing. Thanks to Santamaria's subsequent hit cover version of "Watermelon Man", Hancock was soon receiving substantial royalties, and he used his first royalty check of $3000 to buy his first car, a 1963 Shelby Cobra (also recommended by Byrd) which Hancock still owns, and which is now the oldest production Cobra still in its original owner's hands.

In June 1964, Byrd played with Eric Dolphy in Paris just two weeks before Dolphy's death from insulin shock.

Electric Byrd

By 1969's Fancy Free, Byrd was moving away from the hard bop jazz idiom and began to record jazz fusion and rhythm and blues. He teamed up with the Mizell Brothers (producer-writers Larry and Fonce) for Black Byrd (1973) which was, for many years, Blue Note's best-selling album. The title track climbed to No. 19 on Billboard′s R&B chart and reached the Hot 100 pop chart, peaking at No. 88. The Mizell brothers' follow-up albums for Byrd, Street Lady, Places and Spaces and Stepping into Tomorrow, were also big sellers, and have subsequently provided a rich source of samples for acid jazz artists such as Us3. Most of the material for the albums was written by Larry Mizell.

In 1973, he helped to establish and co-produce the Blackbyrds, a fusion group consisting of then-student musicians from Howard University, where Byrd taught in the music department and earned his J.D. in 1976. They scored several major hits including "Happy Music" (No. 3 R&B, No. 19 pop), "Walking in Rhythm" (No. 4 R&B, No. 6 pop) and "Rock Creek Park".

During his tenure at North Carolina Central University during the 1980s, he formed a group which included students from the college called the "125th St NYC Band". They recorded the Love Byrd album, which featured Isaac Hayes on drums. "Love Has Come Around" became a disco hit in the UK and reached No. 41 on the charts.

Beginning in the 1960s, Byrd (who eventually gained his PhD in music education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1982) taught at a variety of postsecondary institutions, including Rutgers University, the Hampton Institute, New York University, Howard University, Queens College, Oberlin College, Cornell University, North Carolina Central University and Delaware State University. Byrd returned to somewhat straight-ahead jazz later in his career, releasing three albums for Orrin Keepnews' Landmark Records, and his final album Touchstone, a quintet.

Byrd died on February 4 2013 in Dover, Delaware. He was 80.

Discography

As leader

Transition Records
  • Byrd Jazz (1955) – also released as First Flight (Delmark)
  • Byrd's Eye View (1955)
  • Byrd Blows on Beacon Hill (1956)
  • The Transition Sessions (2002 compilation)
Prestige Records
  • 2 Trumpets (1956) – with Art Farmer
  • The Young Bloods (1956) – with Phil Woods
Verve Records
  • At Newport (1957) – with Gigi Gryce
  • Up with Donald Byrd (1964)
Columbia Records
  • Jazz Lab (1957) – with Gigi Gryce
  • Modern Jazz Perspective (1957) – with Gigi Gryce and Jackie Paris
Blue Note Records
  • Off to the Races (1959)
  • Byrd in Hand (1959)
  • Fuego (1959)
  • Byrd in Flight (1960)
  • At the Half Note Cafe (1960)
  • Chant (1961)
  • The Cat Walk (1961)
  • Royal Flush (1961)
  • Free Form (1961)
  • A New Perspective (1963)
  • I'm Tryin' to Get Home (1964)
  • Mustang (1966)
  • Blackjack (1967)
  • Slow Drag (1967)
  • The Creeper (1967)
  • Fancy Free (1969)
  • Electric Byrd (1969–70)
  • Kofi (1969)
  • Ethiopian Knights (1971)
  • Black Byrd (1973)
  • Street Lady (1973)
  • Stepping into Tomorrow (1974)
  • Places and Spaces (1975)
  • Caricatures (1976)
Elektra Records
  • Thank You... for F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life) (1978)
  • Donald Byrd And 125th Street, N.Y.C. (1979)
  • Love Byrd (1981)
  • Words, Sounds, Colors and Shapes (1983)
Landmark Records
  • Harlem Blues (1987)
  • Getting Down to Business (1989)
  • A City Called Heaven (1991)
Other labels
  • Byrd's Word (Savoy, 1955)
  • Jazz Eyes (Regent, 1957) – with John Jenkins
  • New Formulas from the Jazz Lab (Vik, 1957) with Gigi Gryce
  • Jazz in Camera (Sonorama, 1958) with Barney Wilen
  • Jazz Lab (Jubilee, 1958) with Gigi Gryce
  • Live Au Chat Qui Peche (Fresh Sound, 1958),
  • Jazz in Paris: Parisian Thoroughfare (Gitanes, 1958)
  • Jazz in Paris: Byrd in Paris (Gitanes, 1958)
  • Motor City Scene (Bethlehem, 1960)
  • Out of This World (Warwick, 1961)
  • September Afternoon (Discovery, 1982; rec. 1957) – with Clare Fischer and Strings
  • Touchstone (2000) Pepper Adams, Herbie Hancock, Teddy Charles, Jimmy Cobb

As sideman

  • 1955 George Wallington Live At The Bohemia (Progressive 1955 Prestige 1970)
  • 1955 Kenny Clarke – Bohemia After Dark (Savoy)
  • 1955 Cannonball Adderley – Discoveries
  • 1955 Oscar Pettiford – Another One
  • 1955 Hank Jones – Quartet-Quintet (Savoy)
  • 1955 Hank Jones – Bluebird – one track only
  • 1955 Ernie Wilkins – Top Brass (Savoy)
  • 1956 George Wallington – Jazz for the Carriage Trade
  • 1956 Jackie McLean – Lights Out! (Prestige)
  • 1956 Hank Mobley – The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley (Prestige)
  • 1956 Kenny Clarke – Klook's Clique (Savoy)
  • 1956 Art Blakey – The Jazz Messengers (Columbia)
  • 1956 Art Blakey – Originally
  • 1956 Rita Reys – The Cool Voice of Rita Reys
  • 1956 Elmo Hope – Informal Jazz (Prestige 1956, Elmo Hope The All Star Sessions - Milestone CD)
  • 1956 Phil Woods – Pairing Off (Prestige)
  • 1956 Jackie McLean – 4, 5 and 6 (Prestige)
  • 1956 Gene Ammons – Jammin' with Gene (Prestige)
  • 1956 Horace Silver – Silver's Blue (Epic)
  • 1956 Hank Mobley – Mobley's Message (Prestige)
  • 1956 Hank Mobley – Jazz Message No. 2 (Savoy)
  • 1956 Art Farmer – 2 Trumpets (Prestige)
  • 1956 Paul Chambers – Whims of Chambers (Blue Note)
  • 1956 Phil Woods/Donald Byrd – The Young Bloods (Prestige)
  • 1956 Horace Silver – 6 Pieces of Silver (Blue Note)
  • 1956 Hank Mobley – Hank Mobley Sextet (Blue Note)
  • 1956 Doug Watkins – Watkins at Large (Transition)
  • 1956 Sonny Rollins – Sonny Rollins, Vol. 1 (Blue Note)
  • 1956 Kenny Burrell – All Night Long (Prestige)
  • 1957 Kenny Burrell – All Day Long (Prestige)
  • 1957 Gigi Gryce/Donald Byrd – Jazz Lab (Jubilee)
  • 1957 Art Farmer/Donald Byrd/Idrees Sulieman – Three Trumpets (Prestige)
  • 1957 Lou Donaldson – Wailing with Lou (Blue Note)
  • 1957 Jimmy Smith – A Date with Jimmy Smith Volume One (Blue Note)
  • 1957 Jimmy Smith - A Date with Jimmy Smith Volume Two (Blue Note)
  • 1957 Art Taylor – Taylor's Wailers (Prestige)
  • 1957 Gigi Gryce – Gigi Gryce and the Jazz Lab Quintet (Riverside)
  • 1957 George Wallington – The New York Scene (Prestige)
  • 1957 Various Artists – American Jazzmen Play Andre Hodeir's Essais
  • 1957 Kenny Burrell/Jimmy Raney – 2 Guitars (Prestige)
  • 1957 Kenny Drew – This Is New (Riverside)
  • 1957 Hank Mobley – Hank (Blue Note)
  • 1957 Paul Chambers – Paul Chambers Quintet (Blue Note)
  • 1957 The Gigi Gryce/Donald Byrd Jazz Lab – At Newport – One side of LP which also features Cecil Taylor (Verve)
  • 1957 Gigi Gryce/Donald Byrd – New Formulas from the Jazz Lab
  • 1957 Gigi Gryce/Donald Byrd – Modern Jazz Perspective (Columbia)
  • 1957 Sonny Clark – Sonny's Crib (Blue Note)
  • 1957 John Jenkins – Jazz Eyes (Savoy)
  • 1957 Oscar Pettiford – Winner's Circle
  • 1957 George Wallington – Jazz at Hotchkiss (Savoy)
  • 1957 Red Garland – All Mornin' Long (Prestige)
  • 1957 Red Garland – Soul Junction (Prestige)
  • 1957 Red Garland – High Pressure (Prestige)
  • 1957 Lou Donaldson – Lou Takes Off (Blue Note)
  • 1957 Art Blakey – Art Blakey Big Band (Bethlehem)
  • 1958 John Coltrane – Lush Life – one track only (Prestige)
  • 1958 John Coltrane – The Believer – two tracks (Prestige)
  • 1958 John Coltrane – The Last Trane – two tracks (Prestige)
  • 1958 Johnny Griffin – Johnny Griffin Sextet (Riverside)
  • 1958 Pepper Adams – 10 to 4 at the 5 Spot (Riverside)
  • 1958 John Coltrane – Black Pearls (Prestige)
  • 1958 Michel Legrand – Legrand Jazz
  • 1958 Dizzy Reece – Blues in Trinity (Blue Note)
  • 1958 Art Blakey – Holiday for Skins (Blue Note)
  • 1958 Jim Timmens – Gilbert and Sullivan Revisited
  • 1959 Mundell Lowe – TV Action Jazz!
  • 1959 Jackie McLean – Jackie's Bag 3 tracks (Blue Note)
  • 1959 Thelonious Monk – The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (Riverside)
  • 1959 Chris Connor – Ballads of the Sad Cafe
  • 1959 Sonny Clark – My Conception (Blue Note)
  • 1959 Manny Albam/Teo Macero – Something New, Something Blue
  • 1959 Jackie McLean – New Soil (Blue Note)
  • 1959 Walter Davis Jr. – Davis Cup (Blue Note)
  • 1962 Duke Pearson – Hush! (Jazztime)
  • 1963 Hank Mobley – No Room for Squares (Blue Note)
  • 1963 Jackie McLean Vertigo - released 1980 (Blue Note)
  • 1963 Hank Mobley – Straight No Filter – released 1986 (Blue Note)
  • 1963 Hank Mobley – The Turnaround (Blue Note)
  • 1963 Jimmy Heath – Swamp Seed (Riverside)
  • 1963 Herbie Hancock – My Point of View (Blue Note)
  • 1964 Eric Dolphy – Naima
  • 1964 Eric Dolphy – Last Recordings / Unrealized Tapes
  • 1964 Dexter Gordon – One Flight Up (Blue Note)
  • 1964 Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce (Verve)
  • 1964 Solomon Ilori – African High Life
  • 1964 Duke Pearson – Wahoo! (Blue Note)
  • 1965 Dexter Gordon – Ladybird (SteepleChase)
  • 1965 Wes Montgomery – Goin' Out of My Head
  • 1967 Stanley Turrentine – A Bluish Bag
  • 1967 Sam Rivers – Dimensions & Extensions
  • 1967 Hank Mobley – Far Away Lands (Blue Note)
  • 1977 Gene Harris – Tone Tantrum
  • 1978 Sonny Rollins – Don't Stop the Carnival (Milestone)
  • 1993 Guru – Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1
  • 1994 Various – Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool
  • 1995 Guru – Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality
  • 1995 Ahmad Jamal – Big Byrd: The Essence Part 2

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