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Don Byron: Ivey-Divey

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Jazz is deep into a critical phase, through which all mature art forms must pass—look out rock, your time is coming!—the point at which the music either changes or dies, becoming something different or a dusty museum piece. All who choose to enter the field at this time face this challenge, whether they know it or not (especially if they hope to get signed to Blue Note and sell a few records). A player/composer as smart as Don Byron must be well aware of it, and he faces it with wit, courage and skill.

On Ivey-Divey he demonstrates once again his commitment and feeling for the music's roots, forging ahead with a rare combination of caution and daring. The personnel list alone cues the savvy listener to what might lie ahead: his choices of excellent veteran drummer Jack DeJohnette, fine trumpeter Ralph Alessi (for two solid tracks), and young firebrand pianist Jason Moran foreshadow music that is both finely wrought, true enough to tradition, yet progressive enough to be noteworthy. Byron takes on Lester Young, an odd pair of Miles Davis tunes, and his own material, managing to freshen up the oldies well enough so they live comfortably aside the new material.

This is a record likely to satisfy listeners who love Lester Young but are open minded enough to hear him interpreted, and those who are hanging in there with mainstream jazz to see where it might be headed. DeJohnette is in great form, and Moran relaxes into his role as sideman, handling the traditional forms capably while stretching them ever so carefully to make room for his own sophisticated harmonic ideas. Alessi is a technically flawless trumpeter, and he delivers his two cents with plenty of fire, eliciting at least one audible, approving grunt from a band mate.

Ivey-Divey is a noble new addition to the Blue Note continuum. Mainstream jazz, and especially Blue Note's blue chip roster, is by nature rarely at the leading edge of new music. Rather, at its best it has offered up works that carry on the lineage, adding small touches of originality that nudge the music gingerly forward without outraging purists. Ivey-Divey is such a document.


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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