Über Don Byron
Exuberant, vocal and witty, Don Byron's acrobatic clarinet work mirrors his outspoken persona. His style-hopping discography similarly reflects both his wide-ranging musical appetite and his mastery of just about every genre he's been involved with. His eclecticism has led to a diverse following, though not everyone will agree on what constitutes his best work. Among more straight-ahead jazz fans, his 1990 debut Tuskegee Experiments, the rambunctious No-Vibe Zone: Live At The Knitting Factory, and the more subdued Romance with the Unseen (1999) rate highest. With contributions from guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Uri Caine and others, these albums reveal Byron's vision of avant-garde informed Post Bop and feature consistently strong solos. Plays the Music of Music of Mickey Katz and the popular Bug Music are two conceptual albums that offer surprisingly straight takes on old Klezmer and Swing-related tunes, respectively. The politically pointed, Funk-centered Nu Blaxploitation (1998) is something else again, dominated by the love-'em-or-hate-'em vocals of poet Sadiq Bey. What's next is anyone's guess, but the fact that people are likely to both listen and disagree is a sign that he's doing something right.