Donald Byrd Update

D Byrd ColorFollowing a week of uncertainty and speculation, the death of 80-year-old trumpeter Donald Byrd has been confirmed. Haley Funeral Directors in Southfield, Michigan today published an online obituary. The notice said that a private funeral for Byrd will be held this week. Neither the funeral home nor the family is releasing further information. Last week, a nephew announced that Byrd died on February 4 in Dover, Delaware, but Byrd’s immediate family maintained silence that continues.

The February 8 Rifftides post reviewing Byrd’s career is two items down in the queue. We have erased the question mark in the headline.

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  1. Dr Mike Baughan says

    Thanks Doug and Rest in Peace Donald Byrd.

    As a product of the 70’s and growing up in Virginia, I first heard ‘The Blackbyrds’ ‘Rock Creek Park’ (located in DC), Fallin’ like Dominos, etc.-aka the ‘fusion’ Byrd era, before having any knowledge of his Prestige and Blue Note eras. Kind of explored this master backwards. What a full life-played much of his Blue Note Pepper Adams tunes this past weekend after your first (Feb 8th) mention of his passing. Full career. RIP.

  2. says

    The first time I heard Donald Byrd was on the Art Blakey album with Hank Mobley and Horace Silver in about 1956. I was completely knocked out with what appeared to be his effortless swing and his immaculate playing. Further albums with Pepper Adams and in particular his soloing on the Monk at Town Hall album cemented my admiration for his playing. I always felt, or was it just me, that he was greatly underrated as a jazz soloist.

    I followed his career with interest but had no interest in the Blackbyrds era, although I did try. To me it was a dilution of his prodigious talent. However there was enough great bebop playing on record to ensure that I could always put a Byrd album on and hear some excellent jazz trumpet playing.

    R.I.P Mr Byrd.

  3. Frank Roellinger says

    Somewhat ironically, and now dispiritingly, I was listening to the 1956 Messengers’ version of “Nica’s Dream” last week and wondered what Donald Byrd might be up to these days. I found his website with some pertinent information and was glad to see that he still seemed to be active. Then I got Doug’s blog item — unsure then, but now sadly confirmed.

    Here’s a link to the tune, in my mind absolute perfection on the part of everyone involved. I’ve admired it for a long time. Rest In Peace, Mr. Byrd. Those sounds born and nurtured in Detroit will reverberate forever.

  4. mel says

    The first time I heard Donald Byrd was when, as a teenager, I purchased an ABC-Paramount anthology album, Creed Taylor Presents Know Your Jazz, on which several soloists were featured, each with his own track – Byrd playing Stella By Starlight. The tracks were all recorded in March 1956.

    A couple of years later I bought the Columbia 1956 album by the Jazz Messengers which Mr. Roellinger mentions above. It’s one of my all-time favorite LPs.

    Thank you, Donald Byrd, for your marvelous music, and may you rest in peace.

  5. Mike Ukranski says

    My favorite still is Royal Flush with Pepper (Adams) and Herbie (Hancock). And all those samples clearly show that Byrd was still state of the art in the 90’s.