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Don Byron: Ivey-Divey

Jim Santella By

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Don Byron's virtuosic clarinet technique allows him to stretch his limits this way and that. With piano and drums, he opens his program by setting the pace for adventure. With a glimpse of familiar melody here and a peek at remembered themes there, the clarinetist launches an improvisational tirade. Both his clarinet and bass clarinet enable him to demonstrate the capacity that jazz holds for wild and wooly adventures. Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette form a cohesive partnership with Byron and add strenuous raves in the same mold. Each piece builds from a known theme and climbs sky-high in its search for boldness of spirit. One thread that the leader has woven carefully through his program, however, is a consistent return to melody.

Byron's mellow bass clarinet gives "I Cover the Waterfront" a lush timbre to interpret its lovely ballad theme. The trio lulls this one gently, as the leader explores all of his instrument's fluid directions.

The trio begins its interpretation of "I've Found a New Baby" as would Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa. As they surge forward together, Byron, Moran and DeJohnette inject improvised madness into their reconstruction. They never lose sight of the tradition, however, as the three artists accept their roles as modern mainstream jazz creators.

Two nods to Miles Davis provide refreshing interpretations of the legendary trumpeter's mainstream work. On clarinet, Byron wails and moans to drive "Freddie Freeloader" into action. Moran and DeJohnette step up with a cohesive but unique foray into the realm of improvised changes. Again on clarinet, he attacks "In a Silent Way" with passion and intensity. With bass added, the ensemble takes this one on a respectable journey through space and time. Byron has honored the memory while forging ahead with the kind of growth that we've come to expect from this creative artist. Despite its innocuous title, Ivey-Divey comes highly recommended and opens inspirational doors.

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. tk.)

Personnel: Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet,tenor saxophone), Jason Moran (piano), Jack DeJohnette (drums except "Himm"), Ralph Alessi (trumpet on "The Goon Drag," "Leopold, Leopold..."), Lonnie Plaxico (bass on "The Goon Drag," "Abie the Fisherman," "Lefty Teachers at Home," "Leopold, Leopold...," "In a Silent Way")

Title: Ivey-Divey | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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