Donald Byrd (Dec. 9, 1932 — Feb. 4, 2013) was an American trumpeter who emerged as an early member of The Jazz Messengers during the mid-1950s.
He was born Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II on December 9, 1932, in Detroit. Byrd first performed behind jazz percussionist and bandleader Lionel Hampton while still a student at Cass Technical High School. One of his earliest recorded credits, as Sahib Byrd, is on the 78 rpm 10″ “Black Eyed Peas” (b/w “Bobbin’ at Barbee’s”) by the Robert Barnes Sextette, released in 1949 on Fortune Records.
After a stint in the US Air Force military band, Byrd earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State University and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. During his time at Manhattan, he succeeded Clifford Brown in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In 1955, he played on albums by saxophonist Ernie Wilkins (Top Brass Featuring Five Trumpets) and the George Wallington Quintet. That same year, he released his first album, Byrd’s Eye View, on Transition.
- Byrd’s Word (1955)
- Byrd’s Eye View (1956)
- 2 Trumpets (1957 • Farmer / Byrd)
- Byrd Blows on Beacon Hill (1957)
- The Young Bloods (1957 • Woods / Byrd)
- Jazz Lab (1957 • Don Byrd, Gigi Gryce, The Jazz Lab Quintet and Orchestra)
- Three Trumpets (1957 • Farmer / Byrd / Sulieman)
- Modern Jazz Perspective (1958 • Don Byrd – Gigi Gryce and the Jazz Lab Quintet)
- Off to the Races (1959)
- The New York Scene (1959 • George Wallington, Phil Woods, Donald Byrd)
- Byrd in Hand (1960)
- Fuego (1960)
- Byrd in Flight (1960)
- Out of This World (1961 • Pepper Adams Donald Byrd Quintet)
- The Cat Walk (1962)
- Royal Flush (1962)
- A New Perspective (1964 • Donald Byrd Band & Voices)
- Up with Donald Byrd (1965)
- I’m Tryin’ to Get Home (1965 • Donald Byrd Brass With Voices)
- Free Form (1966)
- Mustang! (1967)
- Blackjack (1968)
- Slow Drag (1968)
- Fancy Free (1969)
- Electric Byrd (1970)
- Ethiopian Knights (1972)
- Black Byrd (1973)
- Street Lady (1974)
- Stepping Into Tomorrow (1975)
- Places and Spaces (1975)
- Caricatures (1976)
- Thank You… for F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life) [remixes] (1978)
- Chant [archival] (1979)
- Donald Byrd and 125th St., N.Y.C. (1979)
- The Creeper [archival] (1980)
- Love Byrd (1981)
- Words, Sounds, Colors and Shapes (1983)
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