The Artistry Of … Donald Byrd:
He dared explore, expand, and liberate the sound of jazz in the late 1960s and 70s. This made him an artistic rebel. His progressive audaciousness gave birth to a smooth, cool, and very hip blending of jazz, funk, and R&B. It morphed into a popular music sound that defied categories; an artistry of engaging and enticing defiance. Maybe it was sensibilities of the toughness of his native Detroit that were the foundation of his being a leader in Hard Bop? A style rooted in strong jazz blues and gospel. His composite artistry complimented by exceptional technique, artistic character, and flair. A conduit of the music’s sweet legacy he was one of the first to hire a young Herbie Hancock whose sensibilities matched Byrd’s jazz. Restrained cool trumpet and flugelhorn lines over a slick rhythm section groove became a signature sound into the 1970s upsetting some in the jazz world but all good revolutionary action counts on a healthy freshness of upset, even in the arts! Jazz Fusion and Jazz Rock were categories thrown at him. They only spurred him to groove even deeper into the sound. Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II was his full name. Said like a phrase it’s as groovy and as unique as his artistry.