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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Byrd’

RIP, Alphonse Mouzon (December 26, 2016) Jazz Fusion Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on December 26, 2016

Alphonse Mouzon
November 21, 1948 – December 26, 2016

Alphonse Mouzon was a jazz drummer who came to be one of the architects of American jazz fusion during the late ’60s and early ’70s.  Born in Charleston, SC, Mouzon realized in high school that he had what it took to make a living as a musician.  Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he studied music and drama.  Mouzon’s first gig of note was playing percussion in the Broadway show, Promises, Promises.   He then went to work with jazz great, McCoy Tyner, and spent about a year in Weather Report before being signed to Blue Note Records as a solo artist in 1972.  In 1973, he joined up with Larry Coryell‘s Eleventh House, one of the premiere fusion bands of its time.  He played with Coryell for about two years and can be heard on such albums as Introducing The Eleventh House and Level One.  Throughout his career, which spanned over 45 years, Mouzon also recorded or performed with the likes of Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Robert Plant, Stevie Wonder, and Eric Clapton – to name a few.  Alphonse Mouzon died from neuroendocrine carcinoma on December 26, 2016.  He was 68.

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Died On This Date (February 4, 2013) Donald Byrd / Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on February 4, 2013

Donald Byrd
December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013

Photo by William Claxton

Photo by William Claxton

Donald Byrd was an influential jazz trumpeter who successfully brought jazz into R&B, funk, and later hip hop.  Born in Detroit, Michigan, Byrd was proficient at his instrument at a young age.  In fact, he performed with Lionel Hampton before graduating from high school.  After serving in the United States Air Force where he played in the band, Byrd earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. While pursuing his master’s in New York City, he was hired by Art Blakey to play in his Jazz Messengers.  After leaving Blakey in 1956, Byrd played with some of the greatest names jazz has ever known.  That list includes Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Thelonious Monk.  During the ’70s, Byrd steered his horn toward fusion and R&B.  Although he had been recording influential albums for Blue Note Records as far back as 1959, it wasn’t until 1973’s Black Byrd that he delivered what would become the label’s biggest selling album.  He continued to release best sellers for many years to come.  Byrd was also an educator, having taught at Rutgers, NYU, and Howard University, to name a few.  In all, Byrd earned three Master’s degrees, a Doctorate and law degree.  During the ’90s, Byrd collaborated with hip hop great, Guru of Gang Starr fame on the latter’s Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 which was one of the first albums to back rap with live jazz musicians  and give it a hip hop production.  The landmark album was followed by a second volume that also featured Byrd.  He also contributed to the evolution of hip hop through the use of sampling.  Pieces of his music can be heard in cuts by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, and Naughty By Nature.  Donald Byrd was 80 when he passed away on February 4, 2013.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus from Bob Dylan Examiner for the assist.

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Died On This Date (January 26, 2012) Clare Fischer / Legendary Arranger, Composer & Jazz Musician

Posted by themusicsover on January 26, 2012

Clare Fischer
October 22, 1928 – January 26, 2012

Clare Fischer was a pianist, composer and arranger who, besides having his own respectable career as a musician, arranged music for some of pop music’s biggest stars.  Fischer was still a child when he first started making music, and after graduating from college and serving in the Army, he pursued a career in music.  During the late ’50s, he took on his first gig of note as the pianist and arranger for popular vocal quartet, the Hi-Los.  It was his work with the group that helped establish them as a major influence on the likes of the Manhattan Transfer, Brian Wilson, and Quincy Jones.  It was around that time that he also arranged music for jazz greats Cal Tjader, Donald Byrd, and George Shearing among others.  Fischer began recording his own albums in 1962.  His output includes First Time Out, Surging Ahead, and Clare Fischer & Salsa Picante Present 2+2 , for which he won a Grammy.  Throughout his career, he was recognized with 11 Grammy nominations and two wins.   In 1985, Fischer began writing arrangements for Prince.  Albums on which they collaborated include Under A Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge.  Other artists he arranged for include Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Robert Palmer.  On January 26, 2012, Clare Fischer died as a result of a heart attack he suffered some three weeks prior.  He was 83.

Thanks to Ken McCullagh for the assist.

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Clare Fischer

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Died On This Date (July 5, 2011) Alphonso “Fonce” Mizell / Motown Hit Maker

Posted by themusicsover on July 5, 2011

Alphonzo Mizell
January 15, 1943 – July 5, 2011

Alphonzo “Fonce” Mizell was an American record producer and songwriter who, as part of the Corporation production team at Motown, penned and produced virtually every Jackson 5 hit between 1969 and 1971.  That list includes “ABC,” “I Want You Back,” and “The Love You Save.”  Mizell was also an accomplished musician dating back to his childhood when he, his brother, Larry Mizell and a school friend performed and recorded demos as a doo-wop group, the Nikons.  After high school, Mizell attended Howard University where he studied the trumpet under the great Donald Byrd.   Around this time, the Mizell brothers founded their own record label, Hog Records where they produced and released just one record, the Moments’ “Baby, I Want You,” which has been known to go for as much as $2500 to collectors.  Fonce eventually went to work for Berry Gordy at Motown where, besides the Jackson 5, he worked on hits by the likes of Edwin Starr and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.  Following his tenure at Motown, Fonce and his brother Larry formed their own production team, known affectionately as the Mizell Brothers, but professionally as Sky High Productions.  They went on to produce several classic jazz albums for Blue Note which were recognized for their influence on jazz fusion and acid jazz.  Albums of note included Byrd’s Black Byrd and Bobbi Humphrey’s Blacks And Blues.  They also scored several disco-era hits including A Taste Of Honey’s “Boogie-Oogie-Oogie,” and L.T.D.’s “Love Ballad.”  The Mizell Brothers’ influence continued to reach a new generation of fans well into the 2000s thanks to samples popping up in songs by the likes of Guru, A Tribe Called Quest and J Dilla.  Alphonso Mizell was 68 when he passed away on July 5, 2011.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

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The Mizell Brothers At Blue Note Records (1973 - 1977 and Beyond) - The Mizell Brothers

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Died On This Date (October 16, 1990) Art Blakey / Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on October 16, 2009

Art Blakey
October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990

blakeyArt Blakey was a drummer and band leader whose Jazz Messengers, a band he led for an astonishing thirty years, was the onetime home of such future legends as Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard.  His funky hard bop would become a major influence on all idioms of jazz to come.  The artists he worked with outside of the messengers reads like a who’s who of jazz history.  Art Blakey died of natural causes at the age of 71 but not before recording dozens of albums.

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Moanin' (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition Remastered) - Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

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