Tag Archive for 'Donald Byrd'

Donald Byrd in Hip Hop


The passing of the great trumpetist Donald Byrd last week brought me back to his music, but also to the music that taught me about him. The great jazz-inflected wave of hip hop music during those magical years in the early nineties, before sampling laws changed the direction of the art, relied in no small measure on his music. Here’s my time machine. Continue reading ‘Donald Byrd in Hip Hop’

Donald Byrd RIP

The man with the liquid horn passed away earlier this week, we now learn. I’ll leave deeper analysis to the specialists and merely note that I’ve always gotten immense enjoyment out of his recordings, from his early bop period to his seminal fusion material, on his own and with the Blackbyrds. His playing was consistently light and energetic, celebratory even. Check the hook — and his soloing! — on “Ghana” from 1960, above. (Hank Mobley’s muscular tenor sax is magnificent too, a perfect counterpoint).

Naturally, the entry point for me was hip hop: Gang Starr, Public Enemy, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Black Moon, and on, with Guru and Jazzmatazz providing the reveal.

But soon, his own material took over, not the least on his fusion material for which he seemed eminently suited. Continue reading ‘Donald Byrd RIP’