Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd passed away February 4 at age 80. Born Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II to a minister in Detroit, Byrd became known in the fifties as a Hard Bob trumpeter, but helped usher in funk and soul while still remaining a solidly jazz musician. In addition to his own long discography with label Blue Note Records, he worked with notable contemporaries including Hank Mobley, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk. Byrd also played an influential role in the early days of composer Herbie Hancock's career.
He taught at Rutgers University, the Hampton Institute, New York University, Howard University, Queens College, Oberlin College, Cornell University, North Carolina Central University and Delaware State University. He held three master's degrees, a law degree, and a doctorate. While teaching at Howard University, he helped form the student band The Blackbyrds. The group produced several hits, including "Rock Creek Park," which has been sampled by hip hop artists including Nas and Public Enemy.