Friday, 15 August 2008

Artist Review: Donald Byrd.

From time to time I will revisit the artists that have made a profound impact on my life. First up is one of the most amazing producers and trumpeters of the modern era and for me personally, the Godfather of the London jazz/funk scene of the late 70`s early 80`s...The first long platter I obtained from "Mr BlackByrd" was "Place & Spaces of course from Groove...I would play this album every night for weeks and simply trip out or have an "Arthur" in my bedroom over the arrangements in the tracks....Fallin´ Like Dominoes, Place and Spaces, Change (Makes You Want To Hustle), Wind Parade, and my personal favorite - You And The Music....

Tracks that would later provided a rich source of samples for the Hip-Hop community. Even though Places and Spaces is an out and out jazz funk classic, It`s just one of his many masterpieces. Black Byrd (1972), Street Lady (1973), Stepping into Tomorrow (1974), Caricatures (1976), Love Byrd: Donald Byrd and 125th St, N.Y.C. (1981), to name a few and that is without going into the Long en`s he produced for the band he put together with the production skills of brothers Larry and Fonce Mizell. The Blackbyrds.
DB was considered one of the finest hard bop trumpeters, before his foray into funk rhythms..His first collaboration with the Mizell brothers was 1972's Black Byrd...and this track - "Flight Time".

The Jazz critics of the time slated the album and called Byrd a cop out, but the record was a absolute smash hit,it became the biggest seller in Blue Note history, and just missed hitting number one on the R&B albums chart in the US. It was after he formed the Blackbyrds as his supporting band, grouped together from his outstanding students at Howard University..Together producing more outstanding Jazz-funk classics, this period is held in reverence by myself and I`m sure by so many other funkerters of the time.

Although Mr Byrd went on to record several more albums, none had the infectiousness of his Blue Note jazz-funk outings for me. In 1993 he appeared with GURU on his Jazzmatazz project, which was the only time i ever got to see the great man live at the Town & Country club, in Kentish Town. It was like a pilgrimage to visit an outer world deity..

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