Don Byron, jazz clarinetist, takes a back seat to Don Byron, arranger and conceptualist. His "legitimate" clarinet is featured on the piano-clarinet duets and on the one solo clarinet cut, but most of the CD is given over to his meticulous vocal arrangements. Each tune has its own flavor with composers from many genres represented. Notably there are no 1930's show tunes, although Mancini's "Soldier in the Rain" and Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch" extend that noble tradition. Ledford comfortably sings the rural Texas-flavored "It's Over" while O'Callaghan lifts "Glitter and Be Gay" into classic aria. Cassandra Wilson renders the sophisticated "The Ladies Who Lunch" sardonically and knowingly. Classic vocalese (the voice as instrument) is integrated into the ensemble on other tunes, producing a rich variety of sonorities. The early-Ellington tinged blend of voice and bass clarinet comes off intriguingly.
Caine, Byron, and the remaining musicians accompany with conviction and awareness.
Track Listing: Check Up; Zwielicht; Glitter And Be Gay Basquiat; It's Over; Creepin'; Nessun Dorma; Soldier In The Rain; Reach Out I'll Be There; The Ladies Who Do Lunch; Larghetto.
Personnel: Don Byron: clarinet, bass clarinet; Uri Caine: piano; Jerome Harris: bass guitar, acoustic guitar; Paulo Braga: drums, percussion; Mark Ledford, Patricia O'Callaghan, Dean Bowman, Cassandra Wilson: vocals.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.