The Blackbyrds came together in the early 1970s at Howard University, where their mentor was that school's Chairman of the Jazz Studies Department, Donald Byrd. In the 1950s and '60s, Byrd was a golden-toned post-bop trumpeter, but it was as producer of the five-man group's LPs for Fantasy that he--and they--struck gold. The albums paired here reached the upper echelon of Billboard's Hot 100 album chart, with City Life going to number 16 in 1976. Between 1974 and 1978, when people in ever-increasing numbers were heading for the dance floor as disco exploded, the Blackbyrds' Sly-Kool-Earth-Wind-and-Miles–inspired mix of funk/soul/jazz/dance pop lifted them onto the R&B Top 40 ten times. This set features five of those hits, with "Happy Music" (#3, 1976) one of their biggest. It shows why the Blackbyrds' happy music has been so often sampled--and why it's flying high again.
Rock Creek Park, Thankful ‘Bout Yourself, City Life, All I Ask, Happy Music, Love So Fine, Flying High, Hash and Eggs, Time Is Movin’, In Life, Enter In, You’ve Got That Something, Party Land, Lady, Unfinished Business
Kevin Toney, Stephen Johnson, Wesley Jackson, Orville Saunders, Joe Hall, Keith Killgo