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Jazz Guitarist Charlie Byrd Dies

December 2, 1999

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Charlie Byrd, a prolific guitarist who fused jazz, classical and Latin styles, has died. He was 74.

Byrd died Tuesday of cancer.

During a career that spanned five decades, Byrd recorded more than 100 albums, one as recently as September. Many of those recordings were with his Charlie Byrd Trio, which included his brother, Joe Byrd, on bass.

Byrd grew up in Virginia and learned guitar from his father, a mandolin player. He was inspired to study jazz while stationed in Paris in 1945, and returned to New York to study jazz theory and composition at Harnett National Music School.

He added classical guitar to his repertoire after moving to Washington, D.C., in 1950, and he traveled to Italy in 1954 to study by invitation with the great Italian classical guitarist, Andrea Segovia.

In the 1960s, he incorporated Brazilian rhythms into his music. ``Jazz Samba,″ an album recorded with Stan Getz, helped introduce the bossa nova to American audiences.

In 1997, Byrd was honored as the first Maryland Arts Treasure. This year, he was honored as a Knight of the Rio Branco by the government of Brazil.

``He’s so versatile and so widely experienced, and his technique is so solid in so many different kinds of music,″ said John Spitzer, who teaches music history at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. ``There’s really a great range of expression that you don’t find in any other jazz guitarist that I know of.″

Byrd is survived by his wife, Rebecca, two daughters, one granddaughter and two brothers.

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