Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd’s critically acclaimed career and life have assured the Detroit native his rightful place as one of the most respected musicians of the 20th century. Having successfully transitioned to Jazz Fusion in the 1970s under the guidance of the Mizell brothers, creating four albums on Blue Note records including the highly influential Places and Spaces, Byrd continued to explore the fertile possibilities of Fusion with four more albums recorded for Elektra Records between 1978 and 1982.
Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture "Donald" Byrd II (December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013) was an American jazz and rhythm & blues trumpeter. A sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was best known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist.
Donald Byrd's 1961 recording Free Form is both a smorgasbord of modern jazz styles and a breakthrough album showing the Detroit born trumpeter's versatility and interest in diversity. At age 30, turning down offers to teach and a full decade before turning to commercial funk fusion with his Blackbyrds, Byrd, alongside a wonderful collection of jazz professionals, proves his mettle as an individualist while also stylistically straddling the blurred lines of jazz.
A definite soul based session for Donald Byrd – and that's saying a lot here, because his previous decade's worth of work had all had some sort of R&B focus. The main force behind the set here is Isaac Hayes – who's producing, arranging, and playing most of the keyboards on the album. Oddly, Ike's not singing at all – and vocals are instead handled by Rose Williams, Diane Davis, Pat Lewis, and Myra Walker – plus the Hot Buttered Soul group on backing vocals.
While the music made by Bill Bruford's earlier Earthworks band was consistently more interesting, his current lineup continues to make great strides given its more traditional stance (post-bop acoustic piano/saxophone quartet verses ultra-modern Euro-jazz fusion). On the live Footloose and Fancy Free, the group exceeds its own studio performances with room to spare. The lovely ballad "Come to Dust" is a fine showcase for pianist Steve Hamilton, and Bruford's punchy drumming moves a complex "Triplicity." Even non-Earthworks tunes from Bruford's late-'90s collaborations with Tony Levin ("Original Sin") and Ralph Towner ("If Summer Had Its Ghosts") get inspiring interpretations as well, thanks to the well-seasoned playing of both tenor/alto saxophonist Patrick Calahar and Hamilton.