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Trumpeter Donald Byrd dies at the age of 80

February 8, 2013 1 comment

byrd

The influential jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died on Monday at the age of 80, his nephew has said.

Alex Bugnon, a jazz pianist, reported his uncle’s death on Thursday, though it has yet to be confirmed.

Bugnon wrote on his own Facebook page: “Donald passed away Monday in Delaware, where he lived. His funeral will be held in Detroit sometime next week. I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family. ” (The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk)

Byrd attended Cass Technical High School. He performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State Uni

versity and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. 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 Note Cafe. In June 1964, Byrd jammed with jazz legend Eric Dolphy in Paris just two weeks before Dolphy’s death from insulin shock.

Byrd lived in Teaneck, New Jersey until his death on February 4, 2013 at the age of 80. (wikipedia.org)

Interview with Don Friedman

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment
There’s at least one element of jazz that has remained the same and that is improvisation.

Today I have the honour to publicise the interview I had with pianist Don Friedman.

Donald Ernest Friedman (born May 4, 1935 in San Francisco California), better known as Don Friedman, is a jazz pianist. On the West Coast, he performed with Dexter GordonChet BakerBuddy DeFranco and Ornette Coleman, among others, before moving to New York. There, he led his own trio in addition to playing in Pepper Adams‘s, Booker Little‘s and Jimmy Giuffre‘s bands in the sixties. He was also a part of Clark Terry‘s big band. He currently works in New York as a pianist and jazz educator.[1] He has many fans in Japan, and has toured the country.[2]

Mr. Friedman, you’re active in Jazzmusic for more than 50 years, that’s a lifetime. Has jazzmusic evolved since you started? We know there are labels for different kinds of music, but (in the core) in what way is jazz nowadadys different from modern jazz?

Yes, jazz music has evolved. When I started out there was very little information available and almost no teachers. So I had to learn by listening to records and going out to play every chance I got. Today, because of the internet and the fact that most colleges have jazz programs, people have tons of information and learning tools.  There’s at least one element of jazz that has remained the same and that is improvisation. All jazz music is primarily improvised. Todays up and coming jazz players are exposed to more different types of music then we were when I was young. That’s why todays jazz is different than “modern jazz”.

Which album you produced do you like best? Why? “My Romance”, is your best appreciated album in The Penguin Guide to Jazz. Is this record your favourite too?

No, I’m most proud of the recording I did at a concert at Jazz Baltica. It’s called Don Friedman The Composer. It is my compositions played by my trio and a string quartet. I loved playing with the strings and since it’s a live performance it has a great intensity and feel.

Do you still visit concerts? (and if  so) Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues? Are you inspired by them?
Bill Evans. He’s been an example for a generation of  pianists. This year it’s thirtytwo years ago he has perished (as many great jazzmusicians passed last three Decades). What does this mean to you?

Bill Evans and his trio had a great influence on me. I loved his concept of group playing and interaction among the players.

The bassist Scott Lafaro was your companion, he died at the start of your carreer. I noticed there has been released  a record with Scott as bandleader in 2009 with you as a pianist accompanied by Pete La Roca.  If there had been no accident, would Lafaro have been your permanent accompanist?

I was very close to Scotty and for me it was terrible that he died so young. I can only imagine all the great music he would have made and I would have loved to play with him whenever possible.

Is there jazz in the future? Jazz is the most recorded musicstyle by now, but do you think jazz will reach our youth?

Yes, I think jazz has a great future thanks in part to all the young people that are taking music and jazz courses in college. Even though most of them will never be professional jazz musicians, they will have a much greater appreciation of the music and they will be the audiences of the future.

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