Don Byron | Programs
DON BYRON NEW GOSPEL QUINTET
-one-sheet pdf here
-press release here
Don Byron— clarinet, tenor saxophone, background vocal
Carla Cook— vocal (DK Dyson— vocal on album)
Xavier Davis— piano
Brad Jones— bass, background vocal
Pheeroan akLaff— drums
Video: NGQ Live
From the start of his career as a bandleader in the early 1990s, Don Byron has reveled in interpreting music of a wildly diverse range of styles and artists, including Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Mickey Katz, Raymond Scott, John Kirby, Sly Stone, Henry Mancini, Sugar Hill Records’ early hip-hop, Earth Wind & Fire, Herb Alpert, and most recently, R&B icon Junior Walker.
Don Byron’s newest project grows out of his in-depth studies of gospel music. Gospel pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey is a major inspiration, and Byron revisits some of the master songwriter’s works alongside other classics as well as lesser-known gems of the genre.
“In the past few years I have listened more intensively to black religious music than ever before. Examining the specific blues styles peculiar to country, R&B, and rock led me to thorough studies of the blues based religious music of White and Black Southern Gospel. I am combining my own compositions with traditional Gospel pieces in a way I have not attempted before. This project coincides with a growth in my own faith and is for me a religious expression.” –Don Byron.
The Don Byron New Gospel Quintet was launched in the spring of 2009 and had its New York premiere during a four-night run at the Jazz Standard. The band went on to tour Europe for three weeks and was received enthusiastically by audiences and critics alike. The quintet's performance at England's Cheltenham Festival was broadcast on BBC3 radio and described by critic Kevin Le Gendre in glowing terms:
"Fantastic gig! Anytime [Byron] does a new project he always explores the subject very deeply. He's not just a jazz musician doing gospel - he is somebody who is really engaging with the subject matter as well, trying to absorb what's in those lyrics by Thomas A. Dorsey, these very moving songs about his relationship with God and just human relationships as well and that really comes across in the gig. It is a very moving experience listening to it."
Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz (one-sheet pdf here)
A reunion of the groundbreaking and virtuosic klezmer ensemble that recorded Byron’s eponymous Nonesuch album and spearheaded the klezmer revival in the 1990s. Dedicated to the music of the great Mickey Katz, clarinetist, humorist, bandleader, and musical director for Spike Jones. (9 musicians)
Don Byron Ivey-Divey Trio
Named after Byron’s 2004 release Ivey-Divey - nominated for a Grammy and voted “Record of the Year” by Jazz Times - the acclaimed trio expands on the album’s affectionate tribute to saxophone legend Lester Young and his great ’40s trio with pianist Nat “King” Cole and drummer Buddy Rich.
Featuring Jason Moran or Edward Simon, piano; Billy Hart, drums.
Don Byron Quartet
Also inspired by the work of Lester Young as well as Eddie Harris, the quartet focuses on Byron’s own tunes, including new compositions commissioned by Chamber Music America. Featuring Edward Simon, piano; Kenny Davis, bass; Billy Hart, drums.
Don Byron Plays Junior Walker
Featured on the 2006 album Do the Boomerang, this hard-grooving sextet performs the music of soul legend, saxophonist and singer Junior Walker, including the hits “Shotgun,” Roadrunner,” and “What does it take to win your Love.” Featuring vocalist Dean Bowman. (6 musicians) “… it's funky, it swings, and the grooves are deep and wide… soul with a jazzman's sense of adventure.” -–Billboard
Don Byron and his musicians are available for residencies, clinics, workshops, and master classes. (see also Workshops)