Donald Byrd, who built a strong musical career on his ability to fuse jazz, funk, R&B and pop, has died of undisclosed causes after a hospitalization. He was 80 years old. Byrd, a trumpeter, was hailed as “one of the most important jazz trumpet talents in the past few years” by jazz writer Nat Hentoff when his album debuted in 1955. He played and recorded with several of the biggest talents of the day, including John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey. He was also the first to see Herbie Hancock’s talents, hiring the piano player before anyone else did.
Regardless of some popular opinion, Byrd was the recipient of the prestigious title Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000, and over the years his music has found its way into various songs by newer generations, who still recognize his brilliance.
We wish his family well during this time.