The Blackbyrds

Donald Byrd is a towering figure over late 20th century jazz: a musician capable of sublime solos and great crossover masterpieces. His other legacy was as a pioneering educator, bringing jazz studies to the fore through courses held at Washington’s Howard University, where his students included the Mizell Brothers, who produced his 70s albums, and the Blackbyrds, the group he signed to Fantasy Records in 1972. Consisting of Kevin Toney, Keith Killgo, Barney Perry, Joe Hall, Alan Barnes and later Orville Saunders and Jay Jones, they were talented jazz musicians with a love of contemporary R&B. They made six studio albums Fantasy, all of which are available on BGP. The albums include a string of dancefloor favourites, including their biggest hit ‘Walking In Rhythm’, the block party classic ‘Rock Creek Park’ and rare groove masterpiece ‘Do It Fluid’. This is the sound of black America in the mid-70s, sophisticated soulful music with just a touch of jazz.

By Dean Rudland

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