City Life/Unfinished Business The Blackbyrds


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As fusion began to make its mark in the late 1960s, trumpeter Donald Byrd became one of its most successful practitioners. He cut "Black Byrd" for Blue Note and it became the label??s first million-selling album, catching a tide of jazz fusion changes that were propelling other jazz players like Herbie Hancock into successful cross-overs to both soul and rock audiences. Taking that album title, a group of Donald's music students formed the fusion outfit The Blackbyrds. Their albums "The Blackbyrds" and "Flying Start" (both from 1974) have already been reissued together as CDBGPD 086 and feature some of the band's most memorable pieces, among them the two classics Do It Fluid and Walking In Rhythm. The following year, The Blackbyrds cut "City Life" and in 1976 "Unfinished Business" (originally released as Fantasy 9490 and 9518, respectively). Both were produced by Donald Byrd and feature the regular core group of keyboard man Kevin Toney, guitarist Orville Saunders, bassist Joe Hall and drummer Keith Kiligo, with Stephen Johnson the saxophonist and flautist on the first album and Wesley Jackson filling the role on the second. Among the additional hands helping out and taking a bow are singer Merry Clayton, flautist Ernie Watts, saxophonist Gary Bartz, Patrice Rushen and George Bohanon. As a synthesis of all that was happening in Black music in the 1970s - electonic jazz, funk and hard, swinging R&B - what the group achieved demonstrated here has proven durable and (above all) a lot of fun!


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