Jazz Legend Donald Byrd Dead At 80
Influential jazz icon Donald Byrd (pictured) died Monday at the age of 80. The trumpeter’s passing was confirmed by his nephew, Alex Bugnon, and the cause of death is undisclosed, reports U.K.’s The Guardian.
Reportedly, Byrd’s family had been trying to keep the entertainer’s death private, but Bugnon blew the lid off, and according to Billboard, publicly announced the passing, ”I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family,” he wrote via Facebook and e-mails. He also revealed that Byrd lived in Delaware but that his funeral would be in Detroit.
Byrd was born December 9, 1932, in Motor City, Detroit. Even before he completed high school, the gifted musician played gigs with one of the country’s premier jazz vibraphonists Lionel Hampton. Not being one of those musicians whose studies take a back seat to their craft, Byrd managed to graduate from Wayne State University and receive a Master’s from the Manhattan School of Music.
Throughout his career, Byrd worked with musical icons, such as Art Blakely, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonius Monk, and Herbie Hancock. In the ’70s, he formed the fusion group The Blackbyrds, and the group quickly spiraled up the music charts pumping out memorable R&B-meets-jazz hits, such as “Walking in Rhythm,” ”Rock Creek Park,” and “Happy Music.” Even though Byrd’s roots were in bebop, he later sashayed into soul and funk, particularly jazz fusion.