Known for movies

Short Info

DiedFebruary 4, 2013, Dover, Delaware, United States
FactFrom 1973, taught jazz at Rutgers and Howard universities.

Donald Byrd was born on December 9, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan. His parents were both musicians and his father played the trumpet. Byrd was exposed to music at an early age and began playing the trumpet when he was eight years old. He attended Cass Technical High School, where he played in the school band. After graduating from high school, Byrd studied music at Wayne State University. He then transferred to the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis.

Byrd’s professional career began in the early 1950s. He played with a number of well-known jazz musicians, including Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. In 1955, he made his first recordings as a leader for the Blue Note label. These recordings, which featured such greats as Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham, are now considered classics of the hard bop genre.

In the 1960s, Byrd began experimenting with electronic instruments and jazz-funk fusion. He made a number of influential recordings in this style, including “The Catwalk” and “Black Byrd.” In 1973, he had a major hit with his version of “Love Has Come Around,” which was featured in the film “Coffy.”

Byrd continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, he returned to his roots with a series of straight-ahead jazz recordings. He also began teaching at Rutgers University. Byrd continued to perform and record until his death in 2013.

Donald Byrd was one of the most important and influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. His recordings span a wide range of styles, from hard bop to jazz-funk fusion. He was also a gifted educator, who helped to shape the sound of a generation of young musicians. Byrd will be remembered as a true giant of jazz.

General Info

Full NameDonald Byrd
DiedFebruary 4, 2013, Dover, Delaware, United States
EducationWayne State University, Teachers College, Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music, Dominoes, Places and Spaces, Canteloupe Island


Music GroupsThe Jazz Messengers, The Blackbyrds, Dominoes, Places and Spaces, Canteloupe Island

Social profile links


1Frequently recorded with Gigi Gryce, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Art Pepper (1958-61) and Hank Mobley.
2Was primarily a jazz musician (specialising in hard bop and jazz-rock fusion), but also branched out into R&B and funk. Created and led fusion group The Blackbyrds from 1973 to 1981.
3From 1973, taught jazz at Rutgers and Howard universities.
4Held a bachelor's degree in music from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music. Studied composition under Nadia Boulanger in France. In 1982, earned a PhD in music education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
5[2000] Named a Jazz Master by the (US) National Endowment for the Arts.
6Jazz trumpeter.




Grand Theft Auto V2013Video Game performer: "You and Music"
Diana2013writer: "Tanya"
Saints Row IV2013Video Game performer: "Oh Shit"
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories2006Video Game performer: "Love Has Come Around"
Independent Lens2006TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Confidence2003performer: "House of the Rising Sun"
Very Bad Things1998writer: "Do It Fluid" 1973
How Stella Got Her Groove Back1998performer: "Mastablasta '98"
Stolen Moments.: Red Hot+Cool1994TV Movie documentary performer: "Time Is Moving On", "The Creator Has a Masterplan" / writer: "Time Is Moving On"
Ready to Wear1994performer: "BlackJack" / writer: "BlackJack" - as Donaldson Byrd
Above the Rim1994performer: "Oh Shit"
A Bronx Tale1993performer: "Cristo Redentor", "Cristo Redento"
The Meteor Man1993writer: "IT'S ON"
WKRP in Cincinnati1979TV Series performer - 1 episode
Cornbread, Earl and Me1975performer: "Wilford's Gone" / writer: "Wilford's Gone"
Judy Garland in Concert1964Documentary writer: "When Your Love Has Gone"


Something New2006/Ichoreographer
The Next Step1997choreographer
The Seven Deadly Sins1993TV Movie choreographer


The Next Step1997Austin


Cornbread, Earl and Me1975

Music Department

Don King: Only in America1997TV Movie composer: song "Cristo Redentor"


The 60th Annual Tony Awards2006TV SpecialHimself - Nominee: Best Choreography
Stolen Moments.: Red Hot+Cool1994TV Movie documentaryHimself
26th NAACP Image Awards1994TV SpecialHimself
New American Bandstand 19651977TV SeriesHimself
Soul Alive1977TV SeriesHimself

Archive Footage

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards2014TV SpecialHimself - Jazz Trumpeter (In Memoriam)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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