Lost but not least! Donald Byrd And 125th Street, NYC – I Feel Like Loving You Today (Elektra)
One of the definitive highlights from the 1981 ‘Love Byrd’ album. With production by the likes of the late Isaac Hayes. Although most likely overshadowed by the classic ‘Love Has Come Around’. But how could this ever have been different with such a great success at the time? And even more, knowing ‘I Feel Like Loving You Today’ got pressed as the flipside of ‘Love Has Come Around’ on its 12″ promo package.
I clearly remember how ‘Love Has Come Around’ got a heavy airplay on WBLS back then. Meanwhile pretty much discovering the existence of ‘I Feel Like Loving You Today’ while listening to the album. Even though it would see commercially the light as a 7 inch…
I suppose countless of us have eventually passed on ‘I Feel Like Loving You Today’ at the time. With some of us eventually (re)discovering it in 2009 after the release of 6th Borough Project‘s ‘McLovin” which sampled parts of it. And, as a matter of fact, how timeless and beautiful is this outstanding cool jam! Featuring the smooth vocals courtesy of Ike‘s backing group Hot, Butter & Soul Unlimited. In other words, Barbara McCoy, Diane Evans, Diane Lewis, Pat Lewis, Rose Williams. The whole punctuated by Byrd‘s lazy classic trumpet riffs along with Albert “Chip” Crawford, Jr.‘s piano parts and Peter Bertonlino‘s arranged vibrant strings…
“Donald Byrd, one of the leading Jazz trumpeters of the 50’s and early 60’s, who became both successful and controversial in the 70’s by blending Jazz, Funk and Rhythm and Blues into a Pop hybrid that defied categorization, died on Feb. 04 in Dover, DE He was 80.”
I suppose these few words one could read on The New York Times back on Feb. 13, 2013 say a lot as to how those Jazzmen who dared venturing into Disco, Funk or eventually electronic territories were considered. With this applying to many of them as a matter of fact. From Miles Davis to Herbie Hancock and Idris Muhammad. If not Pharoah Saunders…
A native of Detroit, MI, Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II formed his first band during his teens. Eventually performing with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. And establishin’ himself with his famous trumpet on the New York Jazz scene. This while working with luminaries such as Art Blakey, Max Roach and Herbie Hancock.
Byrd, aside from his activities as a musician, became a chairman at the Howard University after he’d acquired a teaching degree. With one of his students being Larry Mizell during the late 60’s. This bringin’ Byrd to soon after work with Larry and his brother, Fonce. With both of them comin’ to produce the memorable ‘Black Byrd’ back in 1973. An effort which for many years, remained Blue Note’s best-selling album.
That same year, Byrd helped to establish and co-produce some other student musicians who would make themselves quite a name as the Blackbyrds. Delivering a bunch of hits such as ‘Happy Music’, ‘Walking In Rhythm’ and ‘Rock Creek Park’.
Byrd went further on 2 years after with the Mizell brothers. This resulting in ‘Places And Spaces’. An album which spanned the highly influential ‘Change (Makes You Want To Hustle)’ and ‘Dominoes’.
During his tenure at North Carolina Central University by the end of the 70’s, he formed a group which included students from the college called the 125th Street, NYC. And together, they released 3 albums between 1979 and 1982. With their second – ‘Love Byrd’ – spanning the memorable ‘Love Has Come Around’. But also the vibrant ‘I Feel Like Loving You Today’ featuring Isaac Hayes who produced the whole album. ‘I Feel Like Loving You Today’ heavily influencing Nu-Disco headz 6th Borough Project who sampled it on the infectious ‘McLovin” back in 2009.
Donald Byrd eventually went back to recording straight ahead Jazz. Which didn’t get him from his inclination to explore new territories. Such as on his collaboration with the late Guru on ‘Loungin” back in 1993 as a part of his ‘Jazzmatazz’ album.