Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II (December 9, 1932 February 4, 2013), better known as Donald Byrd, was among the very finest American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeters. A sideman for many other musicians of his generation, Byrd was best known as one of the only bebop jazzmen to successfully pioneer the funk and soul genres while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist. As a bandleader, Byrd is also notable for his influential role in the early career of renowned keyboard player and composer Herbie Hancock. Byrd performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school and after playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, he obtained a bachelor's degree in music from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music. While still at the Manhattan School, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers as a replacement for Clifford Brown. In 1955, he recorded with Jackie McLean and Mal Waldron. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956, he performed with many leading jazz musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, and later Herbie Hancock. Byrd's first regular group was a quintet that he co-led from 1958-61 with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams. In 1958 Donald signed with the Jazz label Blue Note, the most significant record label specialising in the form during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. He would remain as one of the label s most popular and respected artists until 1976 when he left to join Elektra. His tenure at Blue Note was highlighted early on and his first nine records for the label are generally considered by the Jazz community to be his golden age. This collection features these remarkable albums in their entirety. Byrd's 1961 LP Royal Flush marked the Blue Note debut for Herbie Hancock, who came to wider attention with Byrd's successful 1962 album Free Form, and these albums (both included in this set) also feature the first recordings of Hancock's original compositions. Hancock has credited Byrd as a key influence in his early career, recounting that he took the young pianist "under his wings" when he was a struggling musician newly arrived in New York, even letting him sleep on a hide-a-bed in his Bronx apartment for several years.