Another jazz titan has left us. He passed away this past week at 80. Byrd came up with beboppers and hardboppers in the 1950s and 60s. One of my first albums was his hardbop Blue Note side, Fuego. Later came classics like the breezy san souci lp Fancy Free, New Perspective–which had the sweeping choral work “Cristo Redentor”(Christ the Redeemer), and Electric Byrd, which featured Brazilian musicians like Airto on the great song “Xibaba”. Always the experimenter, Byrd created the Blackbyrds in 1973, a time that acoustic jazz was having a hard time; the group was a counterpart to the pop trends of the day, moving away from the intensity of hard bop or the out-there funk of Miles Davis’ electric period. The Blackbyrds were and still are very popular today. Later on, Byrd also recorded with hip hop artist Guru on songs like “Loungin'”.
My friend Ned Sublette, who knows a thing or two about music, loves DB’s “Onward ’till Morning”:
Donald Byrd had some serious pedigrees, with music and law degrees from both Columbia University and the Manhattan School of Music.
I’ve posted some album covers as well as the late William Claxton’s pix of Byrd and Mrs Byrd on the NY subway…..
here’s a little montage of his song “Stepping into Tomorrow”