RIP Donald Byrd: Jazz, soul and funk legend
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The influential jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died on Monday at the age of 80, his nephew has said
Alex Bugnon, a jazz pianist, reported his uncle's death on Thursday
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In the 1970s, Byrd moved 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 became the best-selling Blue Note album. The title track climbed to No. 19 on Billboard"²s 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. 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,Donald Byrd & the 125th St NYC Band. They recorded the 'Love Byrd' album, this being one of Donald Byrd's last highlights inï»¿ his jazz funk phase which featured Isaac Hayes on drums. The album had a couple dance grooves, including the hit & garage classic "Love has come around". Recorded on Elektra records and released as a single in September 1981 it became a big disco hit in the UK and reached #41 in the chart.