Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.- Don Byron, an internationally acclaimed jazz musician, will perform at Bard College with his ensemble Music for Six Musicians on Saturday, February 8. The concert, presented by Jazz at Bard, begins at 8:00 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center. Admission is $20; $15 for senior citizens, students, faculty, and staff; and free for Bard students. Byron will also offer a free lecture demonstration about his work, beginning at 3:00 p.m. in Bard Hall.

"Calling Don Byron a jazz musician is like calling the Pacific wet-it just doesn't begin to describe it," wrote Daniel Okrent in Time magazine. "Though he made his bones as a jazz clarinetist, over the past decade he has developed a sort of musical Esperanto-impassioned, expansive, inclusive-distilled from the babel of styles, genres and species, both historical and contemporary, that make up our perception of music itself."

Byron is a clarinetist, composer, arranger, and social critic, who seeks to redefine every genre of music he performs, be it classical, salsa, hip-hop, funk, klezmer, or any jazz style from swing to bop to cutting-edge downtown improvisation. He has been at the forefront of the international jazz scene since being named "Jazz Artist of the Year" by Down Beat magazine in 1992. As a bandleader and along with other artists, Byron has performed at most major festivals around the world, including recent appearances in Vienna, San Francisco, Hong Kong, London, New York, and Monterey.

First formed in 1994 for the recording of his third album, Music for Six Musicians has become Don Byron's longest-standing ensemble. Paying tribute to the Latin and Afro-Caribbean rhythms at Byron's musical roots, the group is also the clarinetist's principal outlet for his own compositions. Music for Six Musicians features some of Byron's most loyal collaborators, including the great Milton Cardona on congas, drummer Ben Wittman, bassist Leo Traversa, pianist Edsel Gomez, and trumpeter James Zollar. The ensemble's second album for Blue Note, You are #6 - More Music for Six Musicians (2002), was released to critical acclaim. "You are #6 is an album that is wide-ranging, effective, and shot through with knowing, releasing humor. It's one of the best albums I've heard this year," wrote Gene Santoro in the Nation.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Don Byron studied classical clarinet with Joe Allard and later worked with George Russell in the Third Stream Department of the New England Conservatory of Music. His artistic collaborations include performances and recordings with Bill Frisell, Cassandra Wilson, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Marilyn Crispell, Reggie Workman, Craig Harris, Steve Coleman, Living Color, Ralph Peterson, Uri Caine, Mandy Patinkin, Atlanta Symphony, and Daniel Barenboim, among many others.

Byron served four seasons as artistic director of jazz at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and is currently artist in residence at Symphony Space. His other projects include arrangements of Sondheim's Broadway musicals; There Goes the Neighborhood, a piece commissioned by the Kronos Quartet; and original scores for the silent film Scar of Shame and a 1961 comedic television episode by Ernie Kovacs. Byron has also written and performed music for the Bebe Miller and Mark Dendy dance companies; he was featured in two films, Robert Altman's Kansas City and Paul Auster's Lulu on the Bridge, and composed and performed the score for Joel Katz's film Strange Fruit. His discography includes Tuskegee Experiments (1992), Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz (1993), Music for Six Musicians (1995), No-Vibe-Zone (1996), Bug Music (1996), Nu Blaxploitation (1998), Romance with the Unseen (1999), and A Fine Line: Arias and Lieder (2000).

Organized by two Bard alumnae, Raissa St. Pierre '87 and Sheila Moloney '84, the Jazz at Bard series is an ongoing effort to bring internationally recognized jazz performers to the Hudson Valley region. The next program scheduled for the spring, on Saturday, March 22, will feature the Roswell Rudd Quartet with Dave Burrell, Andrew Cyrille, and Reggie Workman.

For further information, to purchase tickets, or for reservations, call 845-876-7666, e-mail, or visit Reservations and advance ticket purchase are recommended.

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[Note to editors - Photographs are available in electronic form by request. Call 845-758-7512 or e-mail for information.]

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This event was last updated on 01-08-2003