Firstly, let me state, this is not a biography of the late great Donald Byrd. This is a brief account of my personal reflection on his music…
Last night I sat down and thought about my relationship with Donald Byrd’s music. After putting on “Places and Spaces” to help me think, I didn’t get too far into the LP before realising that this relationship runs deep, a lot deeper than I had consciously realised. I then proceeded to listen through his catalogue and started to contemplate my relationship with music from other greats who had passed on and what their contributions meant to me.
Donald Byrd was a progressive musician, who moved from straight ahead Jazz to Fusion to Jazz Funk to incorporating Soul – always pushing, ever moving forward. His music always seemed to feel relevant, some might say that was thanks in no small part due to a Hip Hop generation, who adopted and sampled his music, thus preserving his legacy. I can’t argue with that assertion, seeing as my own journey through Byrd’s music, for the most part, was navigated via Hip Hop. However, when I listen to Byrd’s compositions, even from his earliest recordings, they have a timeless quality, a sound that feels built to last.
No doubt there will be club nights dedicated in tribute to Donald Byrd and his music, indeed we will certainly be holding our own tribute at Jazz re:freshed. I have however, always believed that the biggest tribute you can pay to the memory of a great musician is to keep playing, listening and sharing their music, as often and as wide as possible.
I never knew Donald Byrd the man, I only know Donald Byrd the musician. Whatever conversations myself and Byrd have shared, have been through listening to his recordings and I can strike up that conversation whenever I feel, I just have to press play. For this reason, as is true of all of the greats that have passed, he’ll never be truly dead to me.
Check out the Jazz re:freshed Donald Byrd Tribute Mix “Byrd is the Word” – Mixed by Adam Rock
(click on the image below to listen)
Legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died last week Monday February 4th 2013 at the age of 80, from an as of yet, undisclosed illness.