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The Blackbyrds


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The Blackbyrds was a rhythm and blues and jazz-funk fusion group, formed in Washington, D.C. in 1973.
The group was led by trumpeter Donald Byrd and featured some of his Howard University students: Kevin Toney (keyboards), Keith Killgo (vocals, drums), Joe Hall (bass guitar), Allan Barnes (saxophone, clarinet), and Barney Perry (guitar). Orville Saunders (guitar), and Jay Jones (flute, saxophone) were later members of the group. They signed to Fantasy Records in 1973.
They are best known for their 1975 hit “Walking in Rhythm”, which received a Grammy nomination.

With the seven consistently-successful studio albums they released for Fantasy from 1974 to 1980 all boasting a blend of jazz, soul, Latin and funk music, The Blackbyrds would become a major inspiraiton to late Seventies/early Eighties British jazz-funk acts like Light Of The World and Hi-Tension.
While, with the likes of Gang Starr, Da Lench Mobb and Full Force sampling their music, they have also - more recently - made a significant impact on today’s hip hop generation.
In particular, their 1975 song “Rock Creek Park” from the City Life album has been sampled numerous times by groups such as De La Soul, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, NWA, Massive Attack, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Nas and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five.
The song has also appeared on the soundtrack to the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.


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