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City Life/Unfinished Business (Remastered)

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Album Review

This reissue combines two of the Blackbyrds' classic albums, City Life from 1975 and Unfinished Business from 1976, on a single 74-minute CD. To be sure, "classic" isn't a word that many jazz purists have used to describe the albums — when Donald Byrd produced them, bop's hard-liners were denouncing the Clifford Brown-influenced trumpeter as a shameless sellout and insisting that he should have stuck to straight-ahead acoustic jazz. But then, the Blackbyrds weren't going after jazz purists — their music was soul, funk, and disco with jazz overtones, and the people who bought their albums were more likely to be into Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power than Sonny Stitt or Art Blakey. Unlike Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron, Marvin Gaye, the O'Jays, and Curtis Mayfield, the Blackbyrds didn't get into a lot of heavy sociopolitical messages; their forte was party music, and it is that escapist, feel-good mindset that defines the infectious hits "Happy Music" and "Rock Creek Park" (both from City Life) as well as memorable album tracks such as the mellow "Love So Fine" from City Life and the insistently funky "Party Land" from Unfinished Business. Calling this music escapist isn't saying that it's faceless or mechanical — far from it. The Blackbyrds' party-time lyrics may not have been challenging, but musically, the band was creative, risk-taking, and distinctive. Even though they were primarily a soul/funk/disco outfit, the Blackbyrds came from jazz backgrounds — and that jazz influence often works to their creative advantage on this excellent reissue.

Customer Reviews

Blast From the Past

I remember buying these albums separately when I was 16 years old growing up in New York City. This Jazz/Fusion music is reminiscent of life in the streets of Brooklyn, NY, dancing in the streets and parks and enjoying life. The controversy of The Blackbyrds as sellouts was not an issue for those who appreciated music that spoke to the soul of us baby boomers. Too bad they do not produce music like this anymore, but we can purchase music like this through itunes. This entire collection is enjoyable to listen to. Check out, "Rock Creek Park," and "Happy Music," to sample (for those who never heard these songs). If you are "old school," you will love it!!

Rock Creek Park: Off the Hook

Last night (January 6, 2008), I heard 'Rock Creek park" by this group, and I will be honest, I have heard this song about 2 times before. But, last night I heard it, and I still wasn't feeling it but, my grandmother told me to listen to the music, and now I must put that in my playlist.

Blackbyrds forever

These artist I noticed in the mid 70s. Under the influences of Donald Byrd (Their Mentor), they excelled giving people of all races good vibes. During this period friends and Family had a lot of house parties. They were kings of the house party circuit and house bands in clubs played their songs a lot. Buy these songs (Jams), they are "funkalishous". GWM

Biography

Formed: 1973 in Washington DC

Genre: Jazz

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...
Full Bio