Don Byron's Ivey-Divey Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Don Byron's Ivey-Divey Trio 

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One of clarinetist Don Byron's strengths is his ability to work successfully in a dazzling array of styles: since his 1992 debut, he's proven himself equally comfortable in klezmer, classical, and hip-hop. On the surface his latest effort, Ivey-Divey (Blue Note), seems like a straightforward tribute to tenor legend Lester Young, but Byron's ambitions are more subtle. The title comes from an all-purpose jive exclamation used often by Young, and on most of the album Byron borrows the piano-drums-reed format Prez employed on a classic 1946 session with Nat "King" Cole and Buddy Rich. Using pianist Jason Moran and drummer Jack DeJohnette, Byron tackles some of the tunes from that session, including "I've Found a New Baby" and "I Cover the Waterfront," but he's not interested in mimicking the Young recordings; both trios share a deeply intuitive level of interplay, but Byron's use of jagged phrasing and weird tonalities drives the music well away from Young's original path. That adventurousness makes Ivey-Divey the purest, most effective expression of the leader's talent since his debut. Yet as much as he's the front man, Moran and DeJohnette are equal partners, taking plenty of solos, constantly toying with the rhythmic and harmonic frameworks, and quickly adjusting to shifts in direction. A few tracks veer from the album's Young-inspired concept; bassist Lonnie Plaxico and trumpeter Ralph Alessi join in on the Byron original "'Leopold, Leopold...,'" which recalls the tightly coiled funk of Steve Coleman, while a tender Byron original, "Himm (for Our Lord and Kirk Franklin)," has a more spiritual feel. For this date Billy Hart will sit in for DeJohnette. Wednesday 27, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $20.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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