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Donald Byrd is a jazz trumpter from Detroit, Michigan. He was born in 1932, and in the early 1950's hit the scene as one of the eras brightest young stars. He graduated from jazz's finest finishing school, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, to co-lead a band with saxophonist Gigi Gryce which was called the Jazz Lab quintet. In my opinion, his best recordings followed, (on the Blue Note label, of course) in a partnership with baritone sax player Pepper Adams through the 1960's. Byrd's solos are characterized by beautiful symmetry and lyricism. My favorite album of his is The Cat Walk, although any of his Blue Note albums are excellent. (Also, check out the live recordings of him with Art Blakey at the Half Note Cafe.)

In the mid-1960's Byrd invested his talents teaching jazz at universities like Rutgers and Howard. During the 1970's he had some commercial success with jazz-rock fusion hits, which isn't my bag. Recently he has returned to his bebop roots recording with fellow veterans Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson as well as with some young blood, e.g. Kenny Garrett.

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