The original Blackbyrds were formed in 1973 by jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd. A doctor of ethnomusicology, Byrd lectured at Washington, DCs Howard University and the group, named after Black Byrd, the artists million-seller, was drawn from his students. The Blackbyrds debut album charted in the soul, jazz and pop listings, while the follow-up, Flying Start, featured their 1975 US Top 10 single, Walking In Rhythm. This infectious performance became the groups first major success, by which point founder members Kevin Toney (keyboards) and Keith Killgo (vocals, drums) had been joined by Joe Hall (bass), Orville Saunders (guitar) and Jay Jones (flute, saxophone). The following year the group hit the US charts again with Happy Music reaching the Top 20. Sadly, the units adventurousness gave way to a less spirited direction. The compulsive rhythmic pulse became increasingly predictable as the group, once so imaginative,...
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