Published Feb 07, 2013This world of jazz suffered a loss this week with the passing of trumpeter Donald Byrd on Monday (February 7). The cause of death has not yet been confirmed. Byrd was 80.
Rumours of Byrd's death had swirled around social media, and the sad news was eventually confirmed by the trumpeter's brother, Alex Bugnon, who said, "I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family."
On a more positive note, he wrote, "Let's remember Donald as a one of a kind pioneer of the trumpet, of the many styles of music he took on, of music education. In sum, Donald was an avid, eternal student of music, until his death. That's what I try to be, everyday!! Rest in peace, uncle!"
Throughout his career, Byrd played alongside jazz greats like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and later Herbie Hancock. He also ventured into R&B and funk, and made his mark on hip-hop when his work was sample by the likes of Public Enemy, 2pac, Common, the Pharcyde, Nas, Madlib, J Dilla and many more.
Byrd was also a successful solo artist and band leader in his own right, releasing popular albums like Black Byrd (1973), Street Lady (1973), Stepping into Tomorrow (1974), and Places and Spaces (1975). He was closely associated with esteemed jazz label Blue Note Records.
His output dropped off in the last few decades of his life. In addition to playing music, he was an educator at various institutions.