Master Composers: Donald Byrd blazed many trails and left behind some memorable songs

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Throughout his storied career, Donald Byrd (1932-2013) left behind an indelible mark in jazz, but also in rhythm and blues.  He was also a pioneering force behind the development of soul and funk when bebop emerged during jazz’s last true Golden Age in the 1960’s.

Born in Detroit as Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II, he helped in the early career of Herbie Hancock on his first two albums in 1961 and 1962.

Seven years and 23 albums under four different record labels later came this effort that you see here.  Fancy Free (1969, limited CD release in 1993) combined many talents ranging from Frank Foster on tenor sax and Duke Pearson on electric piano, just to name a few.

There are only four tracks, but the first one is definitely worth the price of purchasing the CD–that is, if you can find it.  Limited copies are available online, just fyi.

Donald would go on to do 15 more albums over the next 23 years.

No doubt about it, that song resonates very well in the world of Brazilian jazz as well.  Although he left us two years ago this week, his talents will never be forgotten.


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