Classically-trained clarinetist Don Byron (1958)
erupted on the scene of New York's avantgarde in 1991 thanks to a series of
collaborations with the established protagonists (such as Bobby Previte) and
to his own Tuskegee Experiments (july 1991), a set of colorful and
passionate pieces for various configurations that even featured poet Sadiq (Tuskegee Strutter's Ball, Next Love, Diego Rivera).
Anchored to a relatively traditional sextet (cornet, clarinet, piano, bass,
drums and congas), Music for Six Musicians (1995) delved into
Byron's obsession with Latin music, adding strong political overtones
(Ross Perot, Rodney King, Al Sharpton).
Even more conventional was the live No-Vibe Zone (january 1996) for a quintet with guitar and piano (Sex/Work, Next Love, The Allure of Entanglement).
After a lightweight tribute to the swing era, Bug Music (may 1996), Byron
lampooned funk music on Nu Blaxploitation (january 1998), again ruined by spoken-word segments.
The more serious Romance With The Unseen (march 1999), by a quartet with guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Jack DeJohnette, aimed for a romantic mood (the eleven-minute Homegoing).
After toying with classical and soul music on A Fine Line (2000),
and reenacting the Latin-tinged Music for Six Musicians on You Are #6 (october 2001), with Dark Room, Byron
switched to tenor saxophone on Ivey-Divey (september 2004) in order to deconstruct the era of Lester Young.
Byron is certainly a musician who blurs stylistic borders but he has rarely
excelled in any of his postmodernist excursions.
The Kronos Quartet performed Byron's There Goes the Neighborhood (1994)
and Bang On A Can All-Stars performed Byron's
nine-movement Red Tailed Angels on A Ballad for Many (june 2006).
Random Dances and (A)tonalities (december 2017) collects duets with
pianist Aruan Ortiz.
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