The Blackbyrds were a jazz-funk group with thick R&B streaks running down their backs. Assembled by Donald Byrd in 1974, the group's original members – percussionist Pericles "Perk" Jacobs, Jr., drummer Keith Killgo, keyboardist Kevin Toney, reeds player Allan Barnes, bassist Joe Hall, guitarist Barney Perry – were mined from Howard University's music department, where the doctor and jazz legend was an instructor. (Other key players included guitarist Orville Saunders and saxophonist/flautist Steve Johnson.)
This single-CD reissue pairs two blaxploitation soundtracks by different artists: 1975's Cornbread, Earl and Me, composed by Donald Byrd and performed by the Blackbyrds, and 1973's The Dynamite Brothers, composed and performed by Charles Earland. Cornbread, Earl and Me, which featured the movie debut of Larry Fishburne, is serviceable, routine soul-jazz background film music, varying between funk-jazz-rock vamps (such as the Sly Stone-styled instrumental workout "The One-Eye Two-Step"), snazzy jazzy bits for action scenes, and sentimental orchestrated interludes. There are also occasional vocal numbers in a pedestrian mid-'70s soul-jazz-rock mode, such as "The Cornbread Theme."
Flying Start is the second album by the American rhythm and blues and jazz-funk fusion group The Blackbyrds.
The Blackbyrds is the debut album by the American rhythm and blues and jazz-funk fusion group The Blackbyrds. Produced by Larry Mizell and Donald Byrd with production supervision by Orrin Keepnews.
This brilliant CD series entitled "Didn't It Blow Your Mind, Soul Hits Of The 70s" is a 20-volume anthology of excellent R&B music from the 1970s. Each CD features several artists of the R&B genre, performing songs that helped to shape their generation. This is like having your very own 70s Soul Music party. Great R&B classics don't get any better than this, and Rhino brings it to you in one amazing, top-knotch series.
This Landmark release was trumpeter Donald Byrd's first jazz album in over 15 years after a long (and commercially if not artistically successful) detour into poppish R&B/funk. In the 1980s Byrd had neglected his trumpet playing in order to direct the Blackbyrds and teach. The period away from his instrument shows in spots on this well-intentioned set. Byrd gathered together four excellent players (altoist Kenny Garrett, pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith) to play four group originals, W.C. Handy's "Harlem Blues" and "Blue Monk." Ironically Byrd's own playing was not at this point up to the level of his sidemen although his chops would improve during the next couple of years.