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

Mark F. Turner By

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You might be asking "What's next? from clarinetist/saxophonist Don Byron—whose past recordings have included hip-hop, Latin/Afro-Caribbean, klezmer, mainstream and experimental jazz. But unpredictability is what makes him so intriguing; he displays not only chops and ingenuity, but also an inquisitive perception of a broad range of musical genres. With swinging originality, he dedicated his 2004 release Ivey Divey (Blue Note) to the music of saxophonist Lester Young. He now turns his attention to the funky sounds of R&B pioneer "Junior Walker in a set that will make you want to "shake your groove thang.

Saxophonist/vocalist Autry "Junior Walker" Dewalt may be best known for his '60s pop hits "Shotgun and "What Does It Take To Win Your Love, which helped to put Motown on the musical map. Byron assembled a tight group of musicians and performed with them for many months to mirror Walker's signature All Stars band, creating renditions of Walker's music that encompass blues, gospel, and rock and roll. The instrumentation includes a rhythm section, trombone, and an abundance of guitar and organ; but the surprise is that Byron primarily plays tenor sax, in contrast to his usual clarinet.

Byron and the band have studied the subtleties of Walker's sound to a tee. With the addition of soulful vocalists Dean Bowman and Chris Thomas King on many tunes, as well as some outstanding guitar work by David Gilmore and Hammond B3 grinds by George Colligan, the music is unpretentious and packs plenty of punch. There are many memorable tunes, including the rocking "Ain't That the Truth, the laid-back "Mark Anthony Speaks and the soul blues-drenched "Tally-Ho.

But the real blast from the past is the James Brown tune "There It Is with its killer riff, a Fred Wesley-like horn section featuring Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, and Bowman and King trading vocals. If you've lost your ability to groove, this dedication to Junior Walker can definitely help you get it back.


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).

Title: Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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Don Byron
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