Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Pop
There's a strong connection between Don Byron's humor and his profound musical curiosity, two qualities that distinguish him from his more conservative contemporaries. Both are much to the fore in this faithful tribute to ... more »
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There's a strong connection between Don Byron's humor and his profound musical curiosity, two qualities that distinguish him from his more conservative contemporaries. Both are much to the fore in this faithful tribute to Mickey Katz, a witty and innovative clarinetist who brought virtuosity and a compulsive comedy to the klezmer tradition, both with Spike Jones in the '40s and later on his own. Byron's interest in klezmer was hardly faddish when he recorded this 1993 date. His involvement dated back to his student years in the early 1980s when he joined Boston's Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the most faithful practitioners of the form. Forging links between black and Jewish outsider traditions, Byron is as attracted by Katz's love of pastiche and parody as he is by the klezmer clarinet tradition, including Katz's takes on cowboy, Russian, and Hawaiian music. The band is superb, with fine performances by trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Uri Caine, and violinist Mark Feldman, as well as Byron. Together they balance contemporary musical interests with an archival re-creation of some spirited Yiddish comedy. --Stuart Broomer
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Different--but then, that's just Don Byron.
Ryan Powell | 03/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After being amazed with Bug Music, my first Don Byron album, I bought this one hoping for more of the same. It is completely different, and I couldn't be happier. While going from the frenetic and humerous swing of Bug Music to the off-beat klezmer was quite a shock--and one that took some getting used to--this CD is an amazing display of Don's talent and technical ability on the clarinet. This album has that rare ability to make you laugh out loud, smile, and drop your jaw at the musical ability and technique of the group all within the same song. Nowhere is Don's technical mastery of the clarinet more obvious than on this CD, and the humor he displays in his playing makes it very clear that he loves what he's doing--something that can't be said of many of his contemporaries."
Beautiful, inspiring and quality klezmer!
Ishiin Yamaoka | 06/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I come from a klezmer loving standpoint. I don't know of Don Byron as a contemporary Jazz artist, but as a fan of Jazz in general, I have a healthy appreciation and the utmost respect for the man right off the bat just for having ventured into the realm of klezmer after having already been firmly established as a performer in another part of the genre. Obviously, at least a few shallow minded fans of his were put off by this album simply because in it he has broken away from what he has been formerly known for doing and tried something different. Bravo! As a person who is familiar with all kinds of klezmer music, I can easily say that this is one of the most quality productions I have ever heard! Don Byron has really pulled off a wonderful tribute to Mickey Katz with the help of some of the most top level talent in klezmer music today. Singer Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics makes the album a beauty and a joy to listen to whether you're fluent in Yiddish or not! Besides, there are more English lyrics than Yiddish to start with. Byron's mastery of the clarinet shines brightly in amongst the kitschy craziness of the happiest klezmer tracks you'll ever hear! Keep in mind, I didn't approach this CD as a Don Byron fan, but after taking in this inspired and awesome sample of his work, he will always be respected highly in my book for creating one of the best klezmer volumes I'll ever have in my rotation! Check it out - if you love klezmer, you won't be sorry!"
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 07/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don Byron in his liner notes says that Mickey Katz ( 1909-1985) had a "unique and quirky musical vision", and this extremely entertaining CD is a terrific tribute to Katz and his versatility.
The prologue and Epilogue are both abstract jazz pieces, with excerpts from the original "Hello Solly !", of Mickey telling jokes interspersed with the music. Track # 2, "Frailach Jamboree" is straight fabulous klezmer, but with "Haim Afen Range" ("Home on the Range"), we get the beginning of the funny stuff !
Long before there was Allan Sherman or Weird Al, Mickey Katz was making hilarious musical parodies, and of those represented here, my favorite is "Seder Dance", which is a zany take on Khatchaturian's "Saber Dance".Like Mickey Katz, Don Byron is a brilliant clarinetist, and has brought together a group of superb musicians for this CD. I must mention Mark Feldman on violin, and Uri Caine on piano who are utterly sensational, but they are all magnificent, and in what is the highlight track for me, "Dreidel Song", come together in a joyous sound that makes my heart leap inside me. I must also make mention of Lorin Sklamberg and Avi Hoffman, who do such excellent work with the vocals.
Recorded in Astoria, N.Y., in 1991, the sound is good and the total time is 53:12
This CD might be perplexing for the casual listener, but if you love klezmer, and Yiddish humor, you are guaranteed to adore it."