Donald Byrd (1932–2013) was an innovative force in jazz, funk, and R&B.

Donald Byrd

Before recording under his own name, Donald Byrd had earned his chops alongside Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and many more. His work with the group The Blackbyrds was particularly influential, as it helped to pioneer the jazz-funk style, and introduce the genre to a whole new demographic. His soul jazz classic “Black Byrd” (1973) remains one of the bestselling records in the history of the Blue Note label. Byrd also had a significant impact as an educator, teaching at numerous universities and influencing new generations of musicians.