Posted in hiphop | music on February 7, 2013

by Fred Pessaro // BBG

Donald Byrd

Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd passed away earlier this week, and his death was not widely reported till now, via Amoeba:

Rumors were put to rest when confirmation of Byrd's passing was announced by the artist's nephew Alex Bugnon who said that his 80 year uncle had indeed died on Monday, February 4th, adding that for some reason other family members were trying to shroud his passing in secrecy. "I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family," wrote his nephew. So far the exact cause of death has not been made public.
I grew up listening to hip hop, so my first encounters with Donald Byrd came by way of Guru's Jazzmatazz LP and "Buck Em Down" by Black Moon. The latter song samples the "Wind Parade" from his Blue Note LP Places and Spaces, an album I sought out which eventually lead me to more excellent funk/soul-infused jazz. But Byrd had quite the career before adopting funk into his repertoire, playing with the likes of Cal Tjader, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Lou Donaldson, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and countless others, as well as a member of his own band The Blackbyrds.

In latter years, Donald Byrd's music was sampled by countless hip hop artists as well, including names like J.Dilla, Large Professor, Public Enemy, Nas, Jungle Brothers, Ice Cube, and so many others. Check out some of Donald Byrd's work and some of the music he influenced below. R.I.P. Mr. Byrd, you will be missed.




Tags: Donald Byrd, jazz

Comments (19)

So sorry to hear about his passing. I really got into Mr. Byrd's music two summer's ago and its been a wrap ever since.
Musical genius, ahead of his time. RIP

Posted by InnaLeigh | February 7, 2013 3:29 PM

Wonderful musician, RIP.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:47 PM

This has yet to be confirmed by any credible source. Someone wrote that his nephew said this or that. It would be sad if it's true, a real loss. But his death has been falsely reported before. Would be nice to have a real news source as confirmation.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:53 PM

RIP Donald Byrd

I had a very similar experience and grew up with these guys twice. Initially through early 90s hip hop and then eventually as an adult going down that rabbit hole of beats and samples.

Will throw on Ethiopian Knights and pay my respects.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 4:00 PM

Wow, sad. Places and Spaces is one of my faves.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 4:00 PM

I feel fortunate to know him from lisatening to him directly as a kid and for growing up not listening to hip hop.

Posted by tzion | February 7, 2013 4:34 PM

First instructor that showed his students what he was talking about!! Thank you for being able to experience your presence in this time......RIP PROFESSOR BYRD GOD BLESS

Posted by Raymond Lonon | February 7, 2013 4:43 PM

Thank you Donald Byrd for your great contribution to music.

Although we may never remember your birth date or your death date, we will always remember the dash you made in this life.

S.I.P (Sleep In Peace)

Sandra Yagci

Posted by Sandra Yagci | February 7, 2013 4:56 PM

R.I.P.DON, another outstanding spirit I didnt get the chance to work with. I will heaven. Blessings

Posted by DABEAT4u2 | February 7, 2013 5:53 PM

As a young trumpet player dreaming in the 60's I didn't gravitate to Miles , Dizzy and their ilk, but to Mr. Byrd and Herb Alpert, both of whom treated the horn like a woman, to be wooed and caressed. His simple riffs becamed iconic. He did not care to be placed on a pedestal but to be an integral part of the whole. He will be sorely missed.

Posted by Steve Spiegel | February 7, 2013 6:27 PM

Donald Byrd was a Professor of Music at Howard University in the '70's. When I martriculated at HU in '76, the BlackByrds were a hot jazz fusion group of his Howard music students that were jammin' " Rock Creek Park " on the Yard. Prof. Byrd was a great jazz trumpeter who's legacy of music and influence will live on forever through his music ! " Think Twice " is my personal favorite DB song !

Posted by BigTight33 | February 7, 2013 8:59 PM

He loved hummus.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 9:15 PM

I love how every old musician who dies is judged by how many times he was sampled.

Posted by beboper | February 8, 2013 1:45 AM

A music Genius

Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2013 8:21 AM


off to the great tub of hummus in the sky!

Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2013 10:14 AM

Remember seeing Donald in Chicago in 08 and he tore it up! Street lady one of the best albums of ALL TIME Rip Mr Byrd.

Posted by steve lindsey | February 8, 2013 6:45 PM

Phew ! I have to say that Donald Byrd will always be regarded as one of the great forefathers of Jazz Funk. His late period Blue Note records are just startling examples of timeless music. What a giant, a genius and a true legend. Sadly missed.

Posted by scott | February 8, 2013 11:31 PM

"Love has come around" and "Butterfly" "I love your love" " and "feel like loving you today" were my favorites and are all on the same really great album. (Donald Byrd featuring the 125th St NYC Band) i just read a bad review of this album and was shocked! I was sixteen when it was released and it was my introduction to Donald Byrd. Although I was also a fan of Rock Creek Park, Walking in Rhythm, and Happy Music by the Blackbyrds, it was not until his recent passing did I learn of hoe they were put together. I am now interested in learning why his change of style disappointed the critics so much that they did not like the album that introduced me to Mr. Byrd. I'm looking forward to purchasing his greatest hits. R.I.P. Mr. Byrd.

Posted by Debra Glenn | February 10, 2013 8:04 AM

this band is a real deal, not hipster garbage. two way radios

Posted by two way radios | March 8, 2013 12:52 AM

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