220

Don Byron: Ivey-Divey

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Don Byron: Ivey-Divey Clarinetist Don Byron is much like one of those ducks in a carnival shooting gallery; just when you've drawn a bead and think you have him in your sights, he quickly disappears, only to pop up somewhere else, safely out of range. For the ducks, the purpose is survival; for Byron, it's the unrelenting pursuit of wider musical horizons.

On his latest release, Ivey-Divey, Byron has chosen to traverse the placid musical landscape of the late tenor saxophone master, Lester "Prez" Young; more specifically, Young's exemplary mid-'40s trio featuring pianist Nat "King" Cole and drummer Buddy Rich, with Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette sitting in for Nat and Buddy, respectively. It's an admirable plan, but there's a world of difference between Byron and Young, and even though Byron's a superb clarinetist (who doubles on tenor on "The Goon Drag"), his trio's tenor (pardon the pun) and temperament are for the most part far removed from that of Messrs. Young, Cole and Rich, perhaps coming closest on the peaceful "Himm." Elsewhere, there's simply too much sound and fury, the antithesis of Young's pensive and easygoing manner. As Byron says of Young, "Always soft, relaxed, graceful"—three essential qualities that Byron and his companions too often let slide. On the other hand, no one wants or expects clones.

Removing Prez from the equation, what we have is a strapping contemporary trio session with forceful blowing throughout by Byron, Moran and DeJohnette (amplified by trumpeter Ralph Alessi on "Goon Drag" and "Leopold, Leopold..." and bassist Lonnie Plaxico on five selections). The "Lester Young connection" rests largely on five numbers—"I Want to Be Happy," "I Cover the Waterfront" "I've Found a New Baby" and two versions of "Somebody Loves Me." The other tracks are more cutting-edge, encompassing a pair of themes by Miles Davis ("Freddie Freeloader," "In a Silent Way"), four by Byron ("Himm," "Abie the Fisherman," "Leopold, Leopold...," "Lefty Teaches at Home") and Sammy Price's "Goon Drag."

"I didn't want this just to be 'Don Byron plays Lester Young,'" the clarinetist explains. "It's the first record I've made that really reveals the challenge of what I'm working on as a musician, what I'm exploring in my playing." A press release accompanying the album neatly summarizes the outcome: "While the trio uses Lester Young's music as a jumping-off point, the group lands squarely in Don Byron territory." That it surely does. While fans of Lester Young may not find much of interest here, those who are familiar with and partial to the wide-ranging perspective of Don Byron (not to mention Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette) should find ample reason to smile.


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 Fisherman; Lefty Teachers at Home; "Leopold, Leopold . . ."; Freddie Freeloader; In a Silent Way; Somebody Loves Me, alt. take (75:01).

Personnel: Don Byron, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jason Moran, piano; Jack DeJohnette, drums; Ralph Alessi (6, 9), trumpet; Lonnie Plaxico (6-9, 11), bass.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "We Drift Meridian" CD/LP/Track Review We Drift Meridian
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 15, 2016
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
by James Nadal
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction" CD/LP/Track Review Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Sunshine Seas" CD/LP/Track Review Sunshine Seas
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 22, 2016
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 6, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!