Byrd (trumpet) 1932 -2013 :: Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd
II was an American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeter. A sideman for
many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was best known as one of the
only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres
while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist. As a bandleader, Byrd is also
notable for his influential role in the early career of renowned keyboard
player and composer Herbie Hancock.
While still at the Manhattan School, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers,
as replacement for Clifford Brown. In 1955, he recorded with Jackie McLean and
Mal Waldron. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956, he performed with many
leading jazz musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins,
Thelonious Monk, and later Herbie Hancock. Byrd’s first regular group was a
quintet that he co-led from 1958-61 with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, an
ensemble whose hard-driving performances are captured “live” on At the Half
Byrd’s 1961 LP Royal Flush marked the Blue Note debut for Herbie
Hancock, who came to wider attention with Byrd’s successful 1962 album Free
Form, and these albums also featured the first recordings of Hancock’s
original compositions. Hancock has credited Byrd as a key influence in his
early career, recounting that he took the young pianist “under his wings” when
he was a struggling musician newly arrived in New York, even letting him sleep
on a hide-a-bed in his Bronx apartment for several years:
“He was the first person to let me be a permanent member of an
internationally known band. He has always nurtured and encouraged young
musicians. He’s a born educator, it seems to be in his blood, and he really
tried to encourage the development of creativity.”
Hancock also recalled that Byrd helped him in many other ways: he encouraged
Hancock to make his debut album for Blue Note, connected him with Mongo
Santamaria, who turned Hancock’s tune “Watermelon Man” into a chart-topping
hit, and that Byrd also later urged him to accept Miles Davis’ offer to join
Hancock also credits Byrd with giving him one of the most important pieces
of advice of his career - not to give away his publishing. When Blue
Note offered Hancock the chance to record his first solo LP, label executives
tried to convince him to relinquish his publishing in exchange for being able
to record the album, but he stuck to Byrd’s advice and refused, so the meeting
came to an impasse. At this point, he stood up to leave, but when it became
clear that he was about to walk out, the executives relented and allowed him to
retain his publishing. Thanks to Santamaria’s subsequent hit cover version of
“Watermelon Man”, Hancock was soon receiving substantial royalties, and he used
his first royalty check of $3000 to buy his first car, a 1963 Shelby Cobra
(also recommended by Byrd) which Hancock still owns, and which is now the
oldest production Cobra still in its original owner’s hands.
By 1969’s Fancy Free, Byrd was moving away from the hard-bop jazz
idiom and began to record jazz fusion and rhythm and blues. He teamed up with
the Mizell Brothers (producer-writers Larry and Fonce) for Black Byrd
(1973) which was, for many years, Blue Note’s best-selling album. The title
track climbed to No. 19 on Billboard′s R&B chart and reached
the Hot 100 pop chart, peaking at No. 88. The Mizell brothers’ follow-up
albums for Byrd, Street Lady, Places and Spaces and Stepping
into Tomorrow, were also big sellers, and have subsequently provided a
rich source of samples for acid jazz artists such as Us3.
Most of the material for the albums was written by Larry Mizell. In 1973, he
helped to establish and co-produce The Blackbyrds, a fusion group consisting of
then-student musicians from Howard University, where Byrd taught in the music
department and earned his J.D. in 1976. They scored several major hits
including “Happy Music” (No. 3 R&B, No. 19 pop), “Walking In Rhythm”
(No. 4 R&B, No. 6 pop) and “Rock Creek Park”.
During his tenure at North Carolina Central University during the 1980s, he
formed a group which included students from the college called the “125th St
NYC Band”. They recorded the Love Byrd album, which featured Isaac
Hayes on drums. “Love Has Come Around” became a disco hit in the UK and reached
#41 on the charts.
Beginning in the 1960s, Byrd (who eventually took his Ph.D in music
education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1982) taught at a
variety of postsecondary institutions, including Rutgers University, the
Hampton Institute, New York University, Howard University, Queens College,
Oberlin College, Cornell University, North Carolina Central University and
Delaware State University.
Byrd returned to somewhat straight-ahead jazz later in his career, releasing
three albums for Orrin Keepnews’ Landmark Records, and his final album Touchstone,
Owens (trumpet) 1943 :: Many happy returns Jimmy Owens. Jimmy
Owens is a jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, lecturer, and educator. He
has played with Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Hank Crawford, Dizzy Gillespie,
Count Basie, Herbie Mann, among many others. Since 1969, he has led his own
group, Jimmy Owens Plus.
Owens began playing the trumpet at the age of fourteen under the tutelage of
Donald Byrd and later studied music composition with Henry Brant. In the 1960s,
he was a member of the hybrid classical and rock band Ars Nova. After Ars Nova
ended, he was a member of the New York Jazz Sextet. Among the members
of this group at various times were Sir Roland Hanna, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham,
Benny Golson, Hubert Laws, and Tom McIntosh. In addition, he has led his own
group, Jimmy Owens Plus, since the 1970s, touring and playing in festivals and
concerts all over the world. His performances with his band have taken him to
Asia, South and Central America, the Middle East and various parts of Europe.
In 1969 he helped found Collective Black Artist, a non-profit jazz education
and performing organization in 1969.
At the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival, Owens was one of the youngest trumpet
players present to participate in a tribute that was played in the honor Louis
Armstrong. That same year, Owens released his first album, No Escaping It
(1970), on which he seamlessly demonstrated his musical edge while maintaining
a warm tone, along with decisive notation.
In 1990, the Jazz Musicians’ Emergency Fund was founded to help individual
musicians with medical, financial, and housing assistance after Jamil Nasser
and Jimmy Owens presented this idea to the board. Both Nasser and Owens felt it
was very important to help individual jazz musicians rather than organizations.
This program not only provided financial assistance, but it also offered
counseling in career development as well as substance abuse. In that same year,
Owens took a part-time position as an instructor at the New School Jazz and
Contemporary Music Program, where he taught private lessons, the business
aspects of the music industry and various ensemble classes.
Owens is an active member of the jazz education community. He also sits on
the board of the Jazz Foundation of America, which was founded in 1989. He is
an innovative and highly skilled jazz artist whose eclecticism incorporates
every aspect of jazz music and artistry. His accomplishments are momentous and
noteworthy. Not only does his professional musicianship merit acknowledgement
and respect, but his role of being an outspoken advocate concerning the welfare
of musicians and the jazz culture of America reflects his generosity towards
Wells (harmonica) 1934-1998 :: Junior Wells ,
born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr. was an American Chicago blues vocalist, harmonica
player, and recording artist. Wells, who was best known for his performances
and recordings with Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, and Buddy Guy, also performed
with Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.
Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker, and Sonny Boy Williamson II,
Wells learned how to play the harmonica by the age of seven with surprising
skill. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after her divorce and began
sitting in with local musicians at house parties and taverns. Wild and
rebellious but needing an outlet for his talents, he began performing with The
Aces (guitarist brothers Dave and Louis Myers and drummer Fred Below) and
developed a more modern amplified harmonica style influenced by Little Walter.
In 1952, he made his first recordings, when he replaced Little Walter in Muddy
Waters’ band and appeared on one of Muddy’s sessions for Chess Records in 1952.
His first recordings as a band leader were made in the following year for
States Records. In the later 1950s and early 1960s he also recorded singles for
Chief Records and its Profile Records subsidiary, including “Messin’ with the
Kid”, “Come on in This House”, and “It Hurts Me Too”, which would remain in his
repertoire throughout his career. His 1960 Profile single “Little by Little”
(written by Chief owner and producer Mel London) reached #23 in the Billboard
R&B chart, making it the first of two Wells’ singles to enter the chart.
Junior Wells worked with guitarist Buddy Guy in the 1960s, and featured Guy
on guitar when he recorded his first album, Hoodoo Man Blues for
Delmark Records. Wells and Guy supported the Rolling Stones on numerous
occasions in the 1970s. Although his albums South Side Blues Jam
(1971) and On Tap (1975) proved he had not lost his aptitude for
Chicago blues, his 1980s and 1990s discs were inconsistent. However, 1996’s Come
On in This House was an intriguing set of classic blues songs with a
rotating cast of slide guitarists, among them Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey
Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Wells made an appearance in the film Blues
Brothers 2000, the sequel to The Blues Brothers, which was
released in 1998.
Born on this day: November 27, 1942 - Rock guitar icon Jimi Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix, legally changed to James Marshall Hendrix). Happy Birthday to this legendary musician on what would have been his 74th Birthday.