In early 1975, the Blackbyrds, the group inspired, mentored and produced by the great jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, were on their way to their biggest record of their career.
The group, who featured some of the jazz students that Byrd taught at Harvard University, had previously had a top 30 R&B record in America in 1974 with ‘Do It Fluid.’ Written by the master himself, it was the opening song from their self-titled debut album, produced by Byrd with Larry Mizell. That had only reached No. 69 on the pop chart, but now it was time for their big crossover moment. The song was the magical ‘Walking In Rhythm.’
The song was on their second album for the Fantasy label, ‘Flying Start,’ also released late in 1974 and this time solely produced by Byrd. Written by Barney Perry, the track was an infectious, feelgood number highlighted by a brilliant flute solo by Allan Barnes, who also played tenor and soprano saxophone in the band.
‘Walking In Rhythm’ entered Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles survey at No. 89 on 1 February 1975 and was soon climbing on three charts. It wound up hitting No. 4 on that listing, No. 5 on Easy Listening and No. 6 on the Hot 100.
There was further acclaim for the song across the Atlantic, when it hit the UK singles chart at the end of May and climbed to No. 23. Meanwhile the ‘Flying Start’ album went to No. 2 on Billboard’s jazz chart, No. 5 and a very respectable No. 30 on the pop LP survey.
Purchase the song on the Blackbyrds’ ‘Walking In Rhythm: The Essential Selection 1973-1980’ here.
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