Donald Byrd

 

DONALD BYRD

Donald Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II has been one of the most creative and influential figures in jazz for four decades. His career is a mosaic of accomplishments in performing, band leading, music teaching, and other pursuits. His virtuosic and lyrical trumpet style can be heard on recordings of some of the major architects of modern jazz. His prolific recording history includes dates with John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson and Sonny Rollins. Donald Byrd was born in Detroit, Michigan and began his professional career as a teenager. His education includes a doctorate in ethnomusicology and a law degree. He helped launch the careers of many young musicians, among them Herbie Hancock and Duke Pearson. In the early 1970’s, the jazz-fusion movement established Dr. Byrd as a “pioneer of a new sound.” His 1973 recording titled Blackbyrd for the Blue Note label, became a best-selling album. With over seventy-five albums to his credit, his range in style continues to reach far beyond the traditional jazz scene. Dr. Byrd also has been a seminal figure at the forefront of jazz education helping to create such jazz programs as those now available at Howard, Rutgers, and North Carolina Central Universities. His passion for education and young people is further exemplified by his present endeavor linking mathematics to music; his positions as Distinguished Scholar at Delaware State University; and his weekly presentations, classes and lectures for Jazzmobile around New York City. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2000 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award. Dr. Byrd has written film scores and worked with symphony orchestras as a conductor, composer and performer. A man of diverse talents, his other “identities” include playwright, poet, painter, art collector, promoter.