Jazz trumpeter and band leader Donald Byrd, whose clean, elegant phrasing made his reputation in the 1950s and '60s before he began experimenting in the '70s and '80s with jazz-funk-R&B fusions on discs such as "Black Byrd" and "Thank You ... for F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life)," has died at age 80.
He reportedly died Feb. 4 in Dover, Del.
Byrd was born Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II in Detroit and grew up immersed in that city's rich blues and church-music culture (his father was a Methodist minister).
He moved to New York in 1955 and quickly became one of the most sought-after young trumpeters in America and an exponent of the hard-bop movement. Eventually, he would collaborate with
In the early '70s, Byrd joined a number of jazz artists, including
One standout track from that period, "Loving You" (from "Thank You ... for F.U.M.L."), lays a trumpet's guiding melodic line, plus silky lead male and backing female vocals, over a snapping bassline and cracking percussion.
Predictably, however, some jazz purists reacted with horror and condemned Byrd as a heretic. "The jazz people started eating on me," Byrd recalled in one interview.
Byrd also put together a new group, the Blackbyrds, from some of his music students at
The song has been heavily sampled by rap and hip-hop performers such as Public Enemy and
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