The great Duke Ellington once poignantly observed that jazz is a jealous mistress. It also appears that jazz has been a highly charismatic mistress as well, with apparently eternal seductive powers of captivating ongoing generations of her highly talented and dedicated musical disciples. One of the latest of these young disciples of today’s current fusion period in jazz can be found in the powerhouse trumpet wizardry of Winston Byrd. Inspired by former jazz trumpet greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson and others as early as in the seventh grade, Winston Byrd has already firmly established himself as a young rising force on the horizon in jazz to be reckoned with. This is simply attributed to after graduating from high school in 1991, instead of going on to New York University to study Clinical Psychology, Winston’s personal belief in his talent made him boldly decide to devote his life to jazz. In so doing, Winston consummated his decision in paying his dues in the woodshed faithfully. Attracted to and fascinated by the art of playing high notes on the trumpet, Winston diligently practiced until he became capable of easily playing and articulating extreme ranges of high notes into the stratosphere on trumpet. Winston also had evolved into a multi-talented and well-rounded trumpeter, able to skillfully read and play in all musical styles from classical, popular to jazz and its improvisation. Finally, Winston left home and went on the road to perform, record and tour with a wide-variety of highly acclaimed, Grammy winning, recording hit musical groups and artists, such as the R&B, Rock and Pop stars, the Stylistics, the Chi-Lites, Patti Austin, The Dells, The Grateful Dead, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Michael Bolton, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Mary Wilson (of the Supremes), Usher and such hailed jazz artists such as Pieces Of A Dream, Claudio Roditi, Larry Coryell, James Moody, Paquito D’ Rivera, Clark Terry (who was a surprise guest with Winston on his All-Star 31st birthday concert!) Lucky Peterson, Bernard Purdie, Diane Schurr, Shirley Horn, Chucho Valdes, David “Fathead” Newman, Abbey Lincoln, T.S. Monk and even comedian Don Rickles. From this myriad of invaluable playing experiences with many of the top popular recording artists and groups of today, Winston attained even greater heights of recognition and earnings. He did so in being able to subsequently acquire the position of lead trumpet in a number of such big band notables as Illinois Jacquet, David Murray, Slide Hampton, Louie Bellson, Oliver Lake, the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, Roy Hargrove’s Big Band, David Murray, Oliver Lake’s Big Band, and Charles Tolliver’s Big Band, and the Charles Mingus Big Band among others! In fact, so impressed with Winston’s awe-inspiring young talent, trumpeter Jon Faddis became an early role model and mentor. As a result, Winston Byrd earned from this key association with Faddis the prestigious privilege of playing in the trumpet section of the Faddis-led world famous ‘Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band’. Another influence and current mentor of Winston Byrd is the great Cuban trumpet virtuoso, Arturo Sandoval. Winston Byrd has diligently honed his playing skills the hard but sure way, through the test of fire in performing live, recording and touring with the very best of the cutting edge in musical talent today. In so doing, Winston Byrd has appropriately earned the recognition and increasing number of accolades from his peers, he so rightly deserves as a rising dynamic trumpet super talent in his own uniquely original playing and composing style and direction.
Winston Byrd has since gone on to lead his own bands (one in New York, and one in Los Angeles) continuously for the past five years, and recorded his first CD entitled, “Soul Searchin,” which is available in stores, as well as on the Internet at: www.winstonbyrdmusic.com. Trumpeter, Winston Byrd also has a number of his own compositions that have been recorded on T.S. Monk’s (the great jazz pianist, Thelonious Monk’s son) latest release entitled “Higher Ground” where Winston Byrd (former member) can also be heard.
Currently Winston has continued performing, recording and touring with even more top musical artists and groups on the West Coast, such as recently with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, the Frank Capp Juggernaut, the Buddy Collette Big Band, Steve March Torme, Eric Benet, The Don Ellis Reunion Big Band, Ernie Andrews, as well as also performing live on the L.A. based award shows such as the Grammys & the B.E.T. awards!!! Winston Byrd is truly an arising trumpet star whose moment of greatness is definitely at hand.
Recently, Winston Byrd has further extended his musical leadership talents in putting together one of the most innovatively exciting eighteen-piece big jazz band to emerge in Los Angeles. With compositions from such outstanding jazz composers and arrangers as Byrd, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Alan Broadbent, Charley Harrison, Tom Scott, Bob Mintzer and many others, this band is clearly demonstrating the return of big band excellence and renewed popularity.