[Dixielandjazz] Don Byron and a OKOM blindfold Test

David Richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Thu Oct 14 16:39:44 PDT 2004

Hi all,

You may know that experimental jazz clarinetist Don Byron really has  
his roots in Klez and early jazz, but a lot of people do not. Here is  
an article from the San Jose Mercury News today you might find  

this link should be good for a few days, but here is a snip (just in  
case) but you should really check this out. I first saw him in a tour  
of the Klezmer Conservatory Orchestra at Stanford University about 25  
years ago ( here is another article:  
http://www.inch.com/~jerwolff/very/byron.htm ) - it was a bit odd  
seeing a young black man in dreadlocks playing authentic Klezmer style  
with great authority, but that is just the way he does things!

Dave R

The jazz explorer
By Andrew Gilbert
Special to the Mercury News

Slumping low in his chair like a wiseacre student held after class, Don  
Byron looked like he'd rather be anywhere than on stage at the Monterey  
Jazz Festival last month.

The clarinetist wasn't preparing to perform, at least not in any  
traditional sense. Rather, he was getting ready to undergo a venerable  
jazz ritual known as the Blindfold Test, Down Beat magazine's popular,  
long-running feature, in which a critic plays a succession of  
unidentified recordings for a musician who offers commentary on the  
music and tries to identify the artist.

Byron -- who will be performing at Herbst Theatre on Sunday as part of  
the busy opening weekend of the 22nd annual San Francisco Jazz Festival  
-- started the afternoon Blindfold session on a peevish note, telling  
the audience that it was there mostly to see him mess up. But after  
more than an hour of Byron's fascinating analysis of the  
clarinet-centric recordings, which included pieces by Pee Wee Russell  
and Paquito D'Rivera, jazz writer Dan Ouellette played a sinuous track  
by a clarinetist who clearly came of age before World War II.

By this time, Byron's reticence had turned into rapt attention. Leaning  
forward in concentration, he offered running narration of his thought  
process as he eliminated the possible contenders one by one. After  
considerable deliberation, Byron made his guess: the great Memphis  
clarinetist Buster Bailey, best known for his work in Fletcher  
Henderson's seminal 1920s jazz orchestra and John Kirby's refined  
swing-era sextet. When Ouellette announced that Byron had nailed it,  
the clarinetist leaped from his chair with a whoop and did a little  
victory dance. It was a vintage Byron routine, complete with cool pose,  
rigorous intelligence and unfettered enthusiasm.


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