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Happy Music: The Best of the Blackbyrds

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Album Review

There was 1978's Night Grooves: The Blackbyrds' Greatest Hits, then 1989's Greatest Hits, and now there are two additional sets that handle the Blackbyrds' discography with a little more love and depth. This one — Happy Music: The Best of the Blackbyrds — covers most of R&B chart hits and other energetic highlights, while LoveByrds: Soft and Easy focuses on the finer proto-smooth jazz material. Here's some of the most uplifting, most melodically developed (and most sampled) jazz-funk made, and the disc also showcases the group's versatility. Including the exuberant "Happy Music," the lilting "Walking in Rhythm," the heart-melting "Mysterious Vibes," the awesomely sleazy "Rock Creek Park," and the War dead ringer "Do It, Fluid," along with eight other highlights and an unreleased track that doesn't feel out of place, it easily trumps the compilations that came before it. It sounds much more vivid, and the liner notes, from producer Don Mizell, are another treat.


Formed: 1973 in Washington DC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s

The Blackbyrds were a jazz-funk group with thick R&B streaks running down their backs. Assembled by Donald Byrd in 1974, the group's original members -- percussionist Pericles "Perk" Jacobs, Jr., drummer Keith Killgo, keyboardist Kevin Toney, reeds player Allan Barnes, bassist Joe Hall, guitarist Barney Perry -- were mined from Howard University's music department, where the doctor and jazz legend was an instructor. (Other key players included guitarist Orville Saunders and saxophonist/flautist Steve...
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Happy Music: The Best of the Blackbyrds, The Blackbyrds
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