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My Conversation with Don Byron

By Published: November 5, 2004
AAJ: He is a heck of a player. You have got to give him that.

DB: : You got to give him that.

AAJ: You must be enjoying the creative freedom that you have on Blue Note.

DB: : Well, yeah, but I think once I left Nonesuch, I wasn't going to be heading towards a situation that was restrictive in any kind of stylistic way. I made a lot of real interesting records on Nonesuch, but I didn't get to make a lot of records that I wanted to make.

AAJ: Do you consider yourself a jazz musician?

DB: : I consider myself a jazz musician when I'm playing jazz.

AAJ: I'm curious as to why the media so closely associates you with klezmer music.

DB: : I haven't played much klezmer music for years now. It's just that people keep writing about it, but the band, the Mickey Katz Band, got maybe two gigs in four years. It's been a while.

AAJ: Whom do you admire amongst your peers?

DB: : I think around my age, I think Graham Haynes is. Graham Haynes is probably the most interesting. I think Graham Haynes and Ed Simon. That's who I would say are the two most interesting.

AAJ: Ed is working with Terence Blanchard right now.

DB: : Yeah. I think he's the most interesting young musician under fifty.

AAJ: How about influences?

DB: : I would say there's a lot of Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Gary Bartz, and then people in different music, certainly a couple of Latin musicians. There's several Latin musicians who I feel were really important to me. I think those people are just as important to me as jazz musicians. Certainly Stravinsky and Eddie Palmieri.

AAJ: And the future?

DB: : I'm doing a quartet project with Steve Lacy and Billy Hart.

AAJ: Will we see a record?

DB: : It's not a record, or it isn't a record, yet. We're just putting together a gig or two. I'm doing the duo thing with Uri (Caine). I'm doing a Stravinsky record. And I'll probably do another six musicians record of some kind. I'm finishing a chamber music piece. I'm doing some gigs with the Chicago Symphony in a couple different cities, one or two in Europe. I'm doing a film score for a documentary about feet.

AAJ: About feet?

DB: : About feet. I don't think it has a title yet.

AAJ: Are feet interesting enough to make a whole film?

DB: : It's really interesting. It's like New York filmed at a feet-side view. There a section with a foot and leg fetish magazine called Leg Show.

AAJ: You were in a film, Robert Altman's "Kansas City," how did you like the band and subsequent tour?

DB: : I thought the Kansas City Band really kind of came together as a band on that tour. That was kind of an interesting process though. I wouldn't say when we made the movie it was a band. It was just interesting playing with some of those musicians every night, people that wouldn't necessarily be sharing a stage.

AAJ: What did you think of the movie?

DB: : I liked the movie, actually, better then critics seemed to like the movie. I just thought the weakest thing about it was that Jennifer Jason Leigh made a choice to do her speaking parts with buckteeth. That was about the weakest part of it, but I thought it was actually a pretty interesting movie.

Visit Don Byron on the web at .

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