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Byrd, Donald(son Toussaint L'ouverture, II)

univ funk note album

Byrd, Donald(son Toussaint L’ouverture, II), jazz-funk trumpeter, flugelhornist, educator; b. Detroit, Dec. 9, 1932. He studied at Wayne State Univ. in Detroit (B.M., 1954) and at the Manhattan School of Music (M.A., Music Education); he then studied composition with Boulanger in Paris (1962–63). Byrd came to fame with Art Blakey and Horace Silver’s hard bop bands during the 1950s, and recorded extensively for the Blue Note, Savoy, and Prestige labels. He also worked with Red Garland, Jackie McLean, Max Roach, and Sonny Rollins. He teamed up with Pepper Adams to co-lead a group (1958–61), which Herbie Hancock joined in 1961. In 1962 Byrd began experiencing problems with his teeth and at the same time, began work on streamlining and simplifying his style. He also concentrated on beauty of tone and on writing challenging harmonic studies such as “Fly Little Bird Fly.” He served on the faculties of Rutgers Univ., the Hampton Inst, Howard Univ., and N.C. Central Univ. Byrd moved toward a more funk-based sound and launched the Blackbyrds in 1973, a band that consisted of students at Howard Univ. Their aim was to experiment with Byrd’s musical ideas, as a way of complementing and enhancing their studies. In 1973 Byrd recorded the Black Byrd album, a huge seller whose single “Walking in Rhythm” was among the first jazz-funk hits; it set the trend for their other such releases. Success continued with the release of Street Lady, which further helped lay the foundation of contemporary dance. Consequently, Byrd’s work has experienced a great resurgence in popularity during the 1990s; his work is the most sampled of all the Blue Note artists. Byrd also guested on Guru’s Jazzmatazz album and tour (1993). He has performed exclusively with a mute since the 1980s. He currently teaches at Del. State Univ.

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