251

Don Byron: Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Don Byron: Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker Clarinetist Don Byron is proof that one can be a serious musician and still have fun. A member of Mensa, he's a composer of "serious music like A Ballad for Many (Cantaloupe, 2006). Still, anyone who was at his Montreal Jazz Festival show this past summer knows that, whether he's reinventing Afro-Cuban music on Music for Six Musicians (Nonesuch, 1995) or mixing up Puccini with the Four Tops on Arias and Lieder (Blue Note, 1999), he's also got a down-to-earth sense of humor.

He's also someone who likes a good time, and Do the Boomerang is the closest thing to a party record he's ever made. This tribute to the late R&B icon Junior Walker isn't some kind of soul-jazz hybrid; it's rough-and-ready, down-and-dirty rhythm and blues—as it should be.

Best known as a clarinetist, Byron has picked up the tenor saxophone in recent years, specifically on his multigenerational Ivey Divey (Blue Note, 2004). Here it's his main axe and, as was the case with his tribute to Lester Young's trio with pianist Nat "King Cole and drummer Buddy Rich, he's done his homework. He may be a virtuoso player with a broad vernacular, but here it's all about blues and, with very rare exception, he sticks faithfully with the language.

The fact, though, is that so many of R&B's best artists have had more than a passing acquaintance with jazz, and the reverse is also true. Ornette Coleman, after all, started out in Texas R&B bands. Byron's core group—guitarist David Gilmore, organist George Colligan, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Rodney Holmes—may all be better known for working in the jazz sphere, but here they're totally credible, grooving hard throughout. With this music, it's not the notes you play so much as how you play them, and everyone solos with a conviction that makes you feel as though they've been doing this all their lives.

It's surprising just how many of Walker's songs have worked their way into the collective unconscious. Even those who aren't R&B fans will be surprised at the familiarity of almost the entire set, with songs like the funky "Shotgun, (with guest singer Dean Bowman), up-tempo "Pucker Up, Buttercup and soulful "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (both featuring singer Chris Thomas King) high points of a strong set that's virtually impossible to resist.

Everyone shines and solos abound, but these twelve songs clock in at just under 52 minutes, so this is no blow-fest. It's more about the vibe, the groove and the songs. At the live dates coming up in the next few months, there'd better be room for people to dance, because Do the Boomerang is a booty-shaking disc that few will be able to resist.


Track Listing: Cleo's Mood; Ain't That the Truth; Do the Boomerang; Mark Anthony Speaks; Shotgun; There It Is; Satan's Blues; Hewbie Steps Out; Pucker Up, Buttercup; Tally-Ho; What Does It Take (To Win Your Love); (I'm a) Roadrunner.

Personnel: Don Byron: tenor saxophone, clarinet (3), bass clarinet (11); Curtis Fowlkes: trombone (6,11); David Gilmore: guitar; George Colligan: Hammond B-3 organ; Brad Jones: bass; Rodney Holmes: drums, tambourine; Chris Thomas King: vocals (3,6,9,11), guitar (3,11); Dean Bowman: vocals (1,5,6,12).

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Linus + Skarbø / Leroux" CD/LP/Track Review Linus + Skarbø / Leroux
by Dave Wayne
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Bambulaye" CD/LP/Track Review Bambulaye
by James Nadal
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "Tie the Stone to the Wheel" CD/LP/Track Review Tie the Stone to the Wheel
by John Eyles
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "Open The Curtains" CD/LP/Track Review Open The Curtains
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 16, 2016
Read "A Good Time Was Had By All" CD/LP/Track Review A Good Time Was Had By All
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!