Multi-reedist Don Byron experiments in the broadest sense. On each new project, whether klezmer, free jazz, or neo-swing, Byron plays with fresh musical elements, puts his stamp on them, and makes them shine. His latest CD joyously celebrates his roots in the 1960s soul he heard at the famed Apollo Theatre as a youngster.
Bringing together jazz musicians more attuned to Eric Dolphy than James Brown, Byron achieves a rapprochement between the two artists’ styles. Tunes like “Do the Boomerang” are pure funk in the style of his hero, saxman Junior Walker, to whom the CD is dedicated. However, Byron stretches the smooth soulfulness with “out” phrasing and rhythmic switches.
As it turns out, Byron’s edgy jazz clarinet floats perfectly over greasy grooves and smoky blues. Walker’s music was centered in pop idioms, yet always pushed in daring directions, and Byron and his dream band take up where Walker left off. “Do the Boomerang” is less retro than a whole new adventure with very funky old maps.
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