When I was a lot younger, I used to play the saxophone. This grounding in Jazz music provided me with a basic level of knowledge that meant I was vaguely aware of many famous musicians, without really acquiring any in depth knowledge of a particular artist or era. Donald Byrd is a good example of this – I have known who he is for a very long time, but if you were to ask me to discuss specific tracks or styles, I would be out of my depth.
The news that he passed away recently was tinged with some regret on my part. I knew he was a big loss, and that a great deal of fuss would be made, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. Luckily the powers that be were always going to provide some retrospective insight on the matter, and perhaps the best example of this I have come across (in relation to Donald Byrd) is the tribute put together by Gilles Peterson.
Without saying too much more (the introductory video below is no doubt going to be educational to anyone that watches it) there are (so far) two mixes covering the ‘acoustic’ and ‘electric’ years of his long career. Both selections are extremely well put together, and combine a flow that makes them both thoroughly listenable and also packed full of intrigue. I for one will be doing a lot more digging.
It is fast becoming a bugbear of mine that I only really get to know an artists work once they have passed away. This is perhaps an indication of how lazy I might have become, or how little time I have to educate myself. Either way, have a listen, and I defy you not to appreciate the man now he has gone.
R.I.P Donald Byrd
December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013