‘‘I can take any series of numbers and turn it into music, from Bach to bebop, Herbie Hancock to hip-hop,’’ he told The Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark, N.J.
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he returned to playing hard-bop on several albums for the Landmark label, which also featured saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Joe Henderson.
He performed on Guru’s 1993 jazz-rap album, ‘‘Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1,’’ and his recordings were sampled on more than 100 hip-hop songs by such performers as Black Moon, Nas, Ludacris and A Tribe Called Quest.
In 2000, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Byrd as a Jazz Master, the nation’s highest jazz honor.
Zezima reported from Trenton, N.J. Associated Press writer Charles J. Gans in New York contributed to this report.