Obituary: Donald Byrd / Jazz trumpeter

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Donald Byrd, one of the most prolific and dynamic jazz trumpeters of the 1950s, died Feb. 4 in a hospital in Delaware. He was 80.

A spokeswoman for Haley Funeral Directors in Southfield, Mich., confirmed the death. No cause was provided. Word about Mr. Byrd's death began circulating on the Internet last week.

After the '50s, Mr. Byrd achieved commercial success, if not always critical acclaim, by exploring the contours of soul and funk music.

He emerged from the jazz caldron of Detroit in the mid-1950s and quickly became one of the primary instrumental voices of the hard-bop movement, a swinging blues-based style of jazz built around driving rhythms and tight ensemble work.

With a distinctive tone that balanced crisp intonation with a clean melodic line, he was in constant demand for record dates, including sessions with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Jackie McLean and Max Roach. He appeared on 36 recordings in 1957 alone.

Mr. Byrd studied composition in Europe with the acclaimed musical guru Nadia Boulanger in the early 1960s and began teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1968. He led the university's jazz band and developed a program of black music studies at Howard, where he taught until 1975.

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