I decided, in late 2012, I really didn’t want to write RIP pieces anymore. I meant, absolutely, no disrespect to the likes of Marva Whitney or Inez Andrews or Fontella Bass or Ravi Shankar, et. al. But it is depressing when your site begins to resemble a roll call of the dead and as I’ve said in the past, for people like me, in love with music of the 1960s and ’70s, we are definitely entering into a time when a lot of our heroes and heroines will be passing away.

This all said, I can’t not acknowledge the passing of Donald Byrd, who (according to his nephew), died on Monday at age 80. There will certainly be tributes from the jazz community given Byrd’s stature and longevity but for hip-hop dudes like me, our relationship to Byrd is different, couched more in his ’70s Blue Note recordings, especially when he hooked up with the Mizell Brothers on the production trip. Not to play compare/contrast but the only other artists who were comparable to him in the world of soul-jazz would probably have been Lou Donaldson, maybe Grant Green.

Here’s just a few of my favorites from Byrd:

All soul-jazz era songs acknowledged…I don’t think if there’s a Donald Byrd song more sublime than his version of “Cristo Redentor.” 1

  1. Louis CK used this in one of the best episodes of Season 3 of his show, on the rooftop where he and Parker Posie are sitting, looking over the skyline. It’s incredible.