Donald Byrd

Gilles Peterson’s Tributes to Donald Byrd

If you are going to do a tribute mix on a legend like Donald Byrd, who we recently lost, the most important thing is to be thorough.

Fortunately, the worldwide musical personality known as Gilles Peterson released his two part series that pays an excellent tribute to Donald Byrd, which are aptly named The Acoustic Years and The Electric Years. Knowing it came from Gilles Peterson, there is one thing that we know for sure. It’s Thorough.

For someone who is a life long fan, someone who is not too familiar with the work of Donald Byrd, or someone who just wants much of his work organized in one place, this is a must listen. Gilles also adds his own insight, which is always welcomed and appreciated.

Thank you, Gilles Peterson, and of course, this couldn’t be possible without the musical contributions of Donald Byrd. Rest in Peace.

Please note that the above artwork was not officially released with the mix. It is exclusive to 70×

Donald Byrd – A Personal Retrospective

My earliest memories begin in the backseat of a ’92 Camry. It was in my mother’s car that I was introduced to music.

Before Jay-Z, before the radio, before MTV, before anything else modern, I listened to what she did and that began with Donald Byrd.

It annoyed me, because even at a young age, I wanted to be defiant. I wanted to rage against the parental machine. Listening to the same music as your mother is textbook lame and I hated myself for succumbing to her infectious tastes. So, I decided to hide.

Conjuring Fitzgeraldian nightmares of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg or perhaps even Big Brother, itself, a pair of bright, attentive eyes met mine. Rear-view mirrors are a child’s worst enemy. Their watchtower-like construction required of me a new level of stealth. And just like that, I was discreetly nestled behind the driver’s seat, quietly mastering my greatest gift—the air trumpet. Despite my fears, I knew this much: You can’t just plaaaaay the air trumpet; you’ve got to really PLAY the air trumpet. So, at the tender age of nine, I choreographed a flawless set of movements to accompany my imaginary virtuosic displays. Even in the reduced confines of my leather-bound stage, I articulated every note with an orchestrated dip and an exaggerated sway. I was effortlessly cool. I was Donald Byrd. I was a legend in my own mind. Ask about me.

Donald Byrd – Change – Makes You Want To Hustle

Now it may sound strange – a nine year old kid, inconspicuously spazzing out to an old jazz-funk fusion record on the backseat of his mother’s car. Ironically, it made even more sense to me. I appreciated the music of my generation, I really did, but it didn’t make me feel the same. This was different.

As a teenager, I came to terms with it all and accepted myself for who I was. I did, however, find myself occasionally justifying this ardent stannery vis–à–vis a burgeoning appreciation for hip-hop’s primary sources.

“Nah, see…I was riding out to that Wiz, you know? Just doin’ me. But then I had…um…I had put this on by accident. It’s straight doe, cuz…like…it’s the same song. Nahmean?”

Blackbyrds – Mysterious Vibes
Wiz Khalifa – Ink My Whole Body

It’s funny thinking about all of this now, because as we speak I’m going through my mother’s old crates, exploring dusty vinyls from the Donald Byrd back catalogue. Life always comes full circle.

City Life

Donald Byrd has passed away and we will hear endless conversations about his achievements—countless degrees, years upon years educating the children, and a discography that shaped the entire platform of hip-hop. But honestly, I’m not interested in any of that right now. This one feels a bit more personal.

And let’s be clear. I never met Donald. I was never in the Blackbyrds (Wikipedia won’t acknowledge my contributions to the Complete Car Sessions, recorded from ’97-’99). And I never even got to catch him live. But when my mom put me in that backseat, she drove me to school and Donald Byrd was my first teacher.

I don’t mean to suffocate you with melodramatic wordplay. I, too, recognize the possibly overbearing sentimentality of my prose, but that doesn’t make these words any less true. Donald Byrd meant more to me than just about any artist of my own time. Through his art, I found the critical framework for my overarching theses on organized sound. He is the reason I value, above all, the Roots, Robert Glasper, and any other musician that defies traditional archetypes.

But I’ll save that discussion for another day. Right now, I just say thanks to Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II. You will be missed.

Written By: Paul Pennington

Blaxploitation: The Best Of…

With the recent re-release of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, we take a look back at some of the most iconic soundtracks of the Blaxploitation Era.

70|30 Presents: Brasiliana – Mixed by DJ Haylow (Free Download)

Haylow’s newest mix features 120 minutes of bossa nova, jazz, samba, and lounge music for your listening pleasure. Click the banner for the free download, then sit back and relax, and enjoy what Brasiliana has to offer.

The Blackbyrds / Wiz Khalifa – Mysterious Vibes / Ink My Whole Body (1977/2008)

Wiz Khalifa’s tattoo anthem may sound arrogant to some, but one thing is for sure is that this song couldn’t have been made without this 1970’s classic song by The Blackbyrds.

Donald Byrd – Black Byrd (1972)

Recorded in 1972, Donald Byrd’s “Black Byrd” album was ahead of its time in a variety of ways.

Bobbi Humphrey – Fancy Dancer (1975)

Bobbi Humphrey is synonymous with fusion, and her 1975 release Fancy Dancer is her at her best.

Donald Byrd – Kofi (Blue Note) (1969)

Donald Byrd’s 1969 album “Kofi” is an early introduction to Jazz Fusion, as it covers many different sub-genres of Jazz,

Tribute to the Mizell Brothers (A Mix by Matthew Africa)

Matthew Africa pays excellent tribute to the Mizell Brothers through this wonderful mix that gives a whirlwind tour of their extensively soulful discography.