Legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died earlier this week at the age of 80, but news of his death was only just confirmed.
Amoeba reports that Byrd’s nephew, Alex Bugnon, confirmed via Facebook that his uncle died on Feb. 4, adding that for an unexplained reason other family members were trying to keep the news of his death private.
“I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family,” wrote Bugnon.
Byrd was born in Detroit in 1932, and was already an accomplished trumpeter by the time he finished high school. He later went on to play in a military band during his term in the United States Air Force, and then obtained a bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State University and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music.
His career began when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, as a replacement for Clifford Brown, in the 1950s, and formed the fusion group The Blackbyrds in the early 1970s. According to Amoeba, Byrd was a “one of a kind trumpeter,” who was known not just for his work in jazz, but also in R&B, soul and funk music, and it was his ability to transcend time and genre and remain relevant that sets his work apart from others.