About Donald Byrd
Though never quite a member of jazz's vanguard, trumpeter Donald Byrd has always changed with the times. In the 1950s, his star rose when he gained a prestigious spot in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, after which he began recording his own albums. But Byrd was not to remain true to the conventions of Hard Bop. Throughout the Â60s, soul, Gospel, and contemporary pop began to influence his music: his album A New Perspective made use of a Gospel choir; he would later enlist a pair of Afro-Brazilian percussionists for his 1970 album, Kofi. By 1974, he was right in the center of the Fusion pack, releasing the highly influential Jazz-Funk album Blackbyrd. This slick, studio-produced album sold over a million copies, and was influential in forming the genre known today as Acid Jazz. Finally, when jazz and hip-hop began to intermingle, Byrd was there as well, contributing solo work to Guru's initial Jazzmatazz project.