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The expression "ivey-divey," like so many expressions in the jazz world, comes from Lester Young. It was Pres' term for permanent sadness, for living in the world through the blues, life with perpetual blues feeling. The album Ivey-Divey is Don Byron's look at Pres' great '46 trio session with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich. Byron's album, with pianist Jason Moran and drummer Jack DeJohnette, is not a recreation, nor is it a mere modernization or deconstruction of the Lester Young Trio. Byron transmutes Pres' aesthetic into a thoroughly modern context, and the result is simply magnificent.
The interplay in this trio is telepathic. Moran fills in enough space so that the absence of a bassist isn't noticed. Yet he doesn't overplay. In his comping and his soloing, he often ventures outside the changes, and he swings with the power of a tsunami. DeJohnette's drumming is ideal. Whether with brushes or with sticks, the great drummer provides perfectly placed accents, going with Moran where the music needs to go. And, of course, he swings.
Byron is a paradigm of relentless invention. Whether it's in the gentle caress of "Himm" or the bass clarinet howls of "I Want To Be Happy," the leader demonstrates creativity, technical prowess, and that sense of "ivey-divey" he's searching for. And during the second half of the program, when the core trio adds bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and on two tracks, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, the music maintains its high level of excellence. On "The Goon Drag," Byron plays tenor sax, and he does so with an edgy sound and deep, mournful feeling. "'Leopold, Leopold...'" is a driving tune with DeJohnette generating a powerhouse funk rhythm. The two Miles Davis-associated tracks are also top shelf.
Ivey-Divey is a contender for album of the year.
Track Listing: I Want To Be Happy, Somebody Loves Me, I Cover The Waterfront, I've Found A New Baby, Himm (For Our Lord And Kirk Franklin), The Goon Drag, Abie The Fishman, Lefty Teachers At Home, "Leopold, Leopold...", Freddie Freeloader, In A Silent Way, Somebody Loves Me (alternate).
Personnel: Don Byron, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jason Moran, piano; Jack DeJohnette, drums.
Tracks 6, 7, 8, 9, 11: Lonnie Plaxico, bass.
Tracks 6, 9: Ralph Alessi, trumpet.