Legendary trumpet player, bandleader and recording
Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, better known to the music
world as Donald
Byrd, passed away earlier this week, according to the
artist's nephew as sourced on Amoeba's website earlier today.
According to Amoeba, rumors had circulated of his passing and were
only confirmed when Alex
Bugnon, a jazz keyboardist and nephew of Byrd's, who
announced via Facebook that his Uncle, who turned 80 years old this
past December, had died on Monday.
The exact cause of death has not been made public.
Byrd began his recording career as a trumpet player in the hard bop
genre, a variety of post-bebop jazz music that was thriving in the
1950s. After getting his start in Art
Blakey's Jazz Messangers—at that time, a formative proving
ground for up-and-coming jazz artists—he began recording for Blue
Note Records, a label with whom he would record the bulk of his
In the 1970s, he made his biggest mark by effectively incorporating
pop aesthetics into his music alongside the Mizell
Brothers, a pair of producer/writers who wed the
dancefloor-orientation of funk and disco to jazz. His first album
with the duo, Black
Byrd, became Blue Note's highest-selling album of all
Although had a diverse career, his work with the Mizell's is some
of his most highly-regarded today; many tracks became sample
sources for both dance and hip-hop artists. "Think Twice," a song from his 1975
Into Tomorrow, was sampled by a wide variety of artists, from
the iconic Armand Van Helden house single "Flowerz" to Main Source's classic hip-hop
single"Looking at the Front Door," and was
even covered by by J. Dilla and Dwele.
Byrd was 80 years old, and is survived by his