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DON BYRON AS LEADER
See also this list of albums featuring Don Byron as a sideman
 

Love, Peace, and Soul
(Savoy, 2011)

An innovative and continually curious musical explorer like no other, Don Byron has just released LOVE, PEACE, AND SOUL, the debut album by his New Gospel Quintet for Savoy Jazz. With jazz as his springboard, the virtuosic clarinetist and saxophonist has turned his ear to Gospel icons Thomas A. Dorsey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Featuring a stellar line-up of mostly longtime collaborators, the quintet and several guest artists have created a soulful homage to Dorsey and Tharpe with inspired interpretation of their compositions. Playing alongside Byron are DK Dyson (vocals), Xavier Davis (piano, backing vocals), Brad Jones (bass, backing vocals), Pheeroan Aklaff (drums), and guests Brandon Ross and Vernon Reird (guitars), Dean Bowman (vocals), Ralph Alessi (trumpet), and JD Parran (baritone saxophone).

Says Byron: "Dorsey's vision of blending mordern songwriting, old time religious practices and elements of low-down blues prevailed despite early resistance. It ultimately became a uniting element of African-American culture, even more so than Black dance music, which is regional in its appeal. Black religious music is a very personal thing to me, as much if not more than any other style I have researched and performed in the past. As much as I was fascinated by other legends I have explored like Duke Ellington and Stravinsky, I feel a deep spiritual connection to Gospel that transcends just about everything else."

Seven (with Lisa Moore)
(Cantaloupe, 2009)

"Don is a huge talent and an inspiration. I've always love the way Don plays clarinet, and, when he writes piano music, I love the way he makes the piano sound: so tuneful yet chunky, fat, and rocking. He overflows with musical ideas that are witty and clever. Don knows exactly what he wants in his music. Don speaks his mind. I like that."
Lisa Moore

Do The Boomerang
(Blue Note, 2006)

In 2005, Don Byron launched a new group dedicated to the music of soul legend, saxophonist, and singer Junior Walker, featuring Byron on tenor saxophone, Dean Bowman on vocals, guitarist David Gilmore, George Colligan on Hammond B-3 organ, bassist Brad Jones, and Rodney Holmes on drums. Singer/guitarist Chris Thomas King appears as special guest on several tracks. Entitled "Do The Boomerang," the new CD contains covers of several of Junior Walker's biggest hits, including "Shotgun," "Roadrunner," and "What does it take to win your Love," as well as a version of James Brown's "There It Is."

A Ballad for Many
(Cantaloupe, 2006)

"The combination of polymath composer-clarinetist Don Byron and the six post-minimalist virtuosos of the Bang on a Can All-Stars is a match made in musical heaven, and this collection of Byron's short, illustrative pieces is almost sinfully exciting. Most of the music is aggressively rhythmic but with a whimsical undercurrent, a blend of impulses that winds up shooting metallic sparks in all directions. "Eugene," a suite of jittery pieces written for a 1961 television broadcast by Ernie Kovacs, is pugnacious, sharp and always unpredictable like the Three Stooges if they were funny. Other squibs are as cartoonish as their titles ("Fyodorovich," "Blinky Blanky Blokoe"), but Byron also works a more traditional vein with the soundtrack for the documentary "The Red-Tailed Angels." And for sheer beauty there is "Basquiat," a luxuriant slow waltz that will make you melt. (Rating "Excellent")"
Joshua Kosman, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Ivey-Divey
(Blue Note, 2004)

Don Byron, Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette approach music by Lester "Prez" Young and the result is a worthy successor in spirit to Young's mid-'40s trio with Nat "King" Cole and Buddy Rich.

You Are #6:
More Music for Six Musicians

(Blue Note, 2001)

"An album that is wide-ranging, effective and shot through with knowing, releasing humor...It's one of the best albums I've heard this year."
THE NATION

more press about YOU ARE #6

A Fine Line
Arias & Lieder

(Blue Note, 1999)

"Byron has consistently shown both his love and mastery of classical music, but bringing to it his own stylistic eclecticism, wry humor, and edgy social criticism. A Fine Line joyfully follows suit as he places high-art pieces next to Motown classics. It benefits heavily from brilliant arrangements and sublime clarinet playing, plus an array of guest vocalists that includes Cassandra Wilson and Mark Ledford."
NPR JAZZ REVIEW

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Romance with the Unseen
Frisell | Gress | DeJohnette

(Blue Note, 1999)

"Featuring Byron in a quartet with guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and bassist Drew Gress, 'Romance' is Byron's most 'inside' recording to date. It's sweet, gentle, and reflective with firm, willowy lines from Byron...There is also a sparseness that evokes longing."
JAZZIZ 1999

Nu Blaxaploitation
Don Byron & Existential Dred

(Blue Note, 1998)

"The music is a range of tasts dominated by funk-flamed jazz, with forays into horn-driven Latin and the avant-garde that gives way to smart-alecky scripts...The approach is reminiscent of Frank Zappa's satirical extramusical excursions... He's made an all-too-rare record that's both provocative and fresh."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

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Bug Music
(Nonesuch, 1996)

"Don Byron likes to use jazz reperatory to nudge compsers from the fringes into public consideration. His music often arrives in the form of an argument, and on 'Bug Music', he argues for the reputation of the swing band leaders John Kirby and Raymond Scott as underappreciated rebels and genre colliders with a distinct link to Duke Ellington."
NEW YORK TIMES, 1996

No-Vibe Zone
Live at the Knitting Factory
(Knitting Factory Works, 1996)

Recorded during the blizzard.

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Music for Six Musicians (Nonesuch, 1995)

“A brilliant clarinetist, Byron explores the nuances of Latin and Carribean styles through tunes that unfold with surgical precision. The emotional flavors of salsero Eddie Palmieri, merengue singer Juan Luis Guerra, and calypso star Mighty Sparrow waft through these hothouse arrangements…”
–SPIN'

Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz
(Nonesuch, 1993)

"Mr. Byron has used his arsenal of what he calls 'nerdy facts' to establish the importance of the once-dismissed schtickmeister, Mickey Katz. 'A lot of people thought that Mickey Katz couldn't play,' he said,, ' but there are things he played I couldn't even finger, so that can't be right.'"
NEW YORK TIMES 1998

Tuskeegee Experiments (Nonesuch, 1992)

"His formative years at the New England Conservatory provided him with a wellspring of technical facilities and stately poise, which he exhibited on plaintive readings such as Robert Schumann's 'Auf einer Burg' from Tuskeegee Experiments."
CITY PAPER 1998

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