Pianist / vocalist / composer Warren Byrd is a Hartford native with an international touring schedule after many fruitful years playing Jazz throughout Connecticut, Southern New England, and New York.
Early Years: He’s youngest in a family of music lovers. Showing talent early on, he was encouraged to perform, singing in the Gospel choir at age 4. Also, he was nurtured to love big band jazz early. Would pursue a Theatre career starting at age 14 and had amassed extensive performing credits throughout his teen years. He began composing music at about age 11. Grew into a passion for bebop jazz, especially the music of Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson. Studied Jazz Piano and Music Theory notably with Thomassina Neely, Music Director of Warburton Community Church and R. Leslie Childs Music Teacher at South Catholic High School. Several consecutive summers in the Hartford Stage Company Summer Youth Theatre exposed him to fine musicianship in the aegis of John Johnson, Ed DeGroat, and Stephen Barnicle leading to a curiosity for 20th century classical music, especially Stravinsky. By high school graduation 1983, he’d earn a full scholarship for Classical Voice at Hartt College of Music. He would soon leave to forge his own studies of Composition, Theory, and Jazz Piano.
Formative Developmental Period: 1983 to 1989 were spent in toil, frustration, and study. He listened and read as much as possible seeking the artistic wisdom. He’d focused on jazz history and developed a deep respect for the work of Ellington & Strayhorn, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Igor Stravinsky, culling his compositional voice. Many of his Hartford, Connecticut theatre ties were still strong. He worked with The Hartford Contemporary Dance Ensemble as their principal accompanist. He’d create improvisational soundscapes with the Performing Ensemble(formerly the Operation Push Performing Ensemble) as well as recite poetry and act in their productions. His musical career began to take hold in 1987 working with Flautist Rick Brown. He created the music appreciation Wednesdays at Center for Youth and Community Resources Summer Camp 1988. He co- formed the McGhee/Byrd Duo to concentrate on the works of Ellington, Strayhorn, Mingus, and other contemporary jazz artists. He began directing a youth choir and an adult choir at Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford for whom he would arrange pieces, compose, and teach. He began frequenting the local jam sessions and meeting other jazz musicians. Soon he’d become a full-time Hartford-based freelance musician