Jazz Great Donald Byrd Dead, Nephew Says

Donald Byrd
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The 80-year-old trumpeter's genre-spanning work has made him a hip-hop mainstay

Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died at the age of 80 earlier this week, according to a report from Amoeba.

The music store's blog, citing "Facebook and emails" from Byrd's nephew, jazz keyboardist Alex Bugnon, says the influential musician died on Monday.

"I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family," Bugnon reportedly wrote. He added that Byrd, living in Delaware, would have a funeral in his hometown of Detroit. 

An official statement, from Byrd's immediate family or one of his many labels, has yet to be released. 

Born Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II in 1932, the musician spread his wings from hard bop to fusion and well beyond. Byrd's lengthy career included an extensive catalog of releases as a band leader, notably a Blue Note Records run in the '60s and '70s that included "A New Perspective" and "Black Byrd," an R&B-meets-jazz release that became a label bestseller. A former member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, he played alongside John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and many other jazz legends.

More recently, Byrd became a ubiquitous force in hip-hop, playing with Gang Starr's Guru on his Jazzmatazz project and becoming sampled on dozens of tracks by artists from Naughty by Nature to A Tribe Called Quest to Public Enemy.

"Let's remember Donald as a one of a kind pioneer of the trumpet, of the many styles of music he took on, of music education," Bugnon was quoted as concluding. "In sum, Donald was an avid, eternal student of music, until his death. That's what I try to be, everyday!! Rest in peace, uncle!"