R.I.P: Jazz Trumpeter Donald Byrd

R.I.P: Jazz Trumpeter Donald Byrd

Legendary trumpet player, bandleader and recording artist Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, better known to the music world as Donald Byrd, passed away earlier this week, according to the artist's nephew as sourced on Amoeba's website earlier today.

According to Amoeba, rumors had circulated of his passing and were only confirmed when Alex Bugnon, a jazz keyboardist and nephew of Byrd's, who announced via Facebook that his Uncle, who turned 80 years old this past December, had died on Monday.

The exact cause of death has not been made public.

Byrd began his recording career as a trumpet player in the hard bop genre, a variety of post-bebop jazz music that was thriving in the 1950s. After getting his start in Art Blakey's Jazz Messangers—at that time, a formative proving ground for up-and-coming jazz artists—he began recording for Blue Note Records, a label with whom he would record the bulk of his releases.

In the 1970s, he made his biggest mark by effectively incorporating pop aesthetics into his music alongside the Mizell Brothers, a pair of producer/writers who wed the dancefloor-orientation of funk and disco to jazz. His first album with the duo, Black Byrd, became Blue Note's highest-selling album of all time.

Although had a diverse career, his work with the Mizell's is some of his most highly-regarded today; many tracks became sample sources for both dance and hip-hop artists. "Think Twice," a song from his 1975 album Stepping Into Tomorrow, was sampled by a wide variety of artists, from the iconic Armand Van Helden house single "Flowerz" to Main Source's classic hip-hop single "Looking at the Front Door," and was even covered by by J. Dilla and Dwele.

Byrd was 80 years old, and is survived by his nephew, Alex Bugnon.

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