calendar  |  musicians  |  venues  |  concert reviews  |  CD reviews  |  photos  |  features

Don Byron


by Jeff Waggoner

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In jazz there are foxes and hedgehogs.  Charlie Parker had the big thing of bebop, and was the prototypical hedgehog. Miles Davis, with his multitude of innovations, was a fox.

Albany jazz has its own fox with Don Byron, a visiting professor at SUNY Albany, who has put out one of  widest-ranging set of discs in jazz – refracted through everything from klezmer, to classical to cartoon music.  And the music keeps coming.

Byron is a composer, conductor and clarinetist – not to mention his saxophone work on his new CD Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker (Blue Note) – and he brings to Albany a vast range of knowledge and experience that’s rare for someone still south of 50.

Byron studied with the great teacher Joe Allard, who also taught Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and Eric Dolphy, among others.  Byron attended the New England Conservatory of Music as part of the Third Stream Department, headed by the innovator George Russell. After his formal schooling, Byron made a splash early in his career when he was named Down Beat magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year in 1992.
Byron’s curiosity seems to touch everything musical, and it’s contagious to those around him.
He’s teaching again the spring semester at the University at Albany, including a course in improvisation. 
Byron’s contract with SUNY is year-to-year.  So this spring will be the time for serious jazz students to take the opportunity to learn from of one of the major jazz artists of our time.
Find out more at the University at Albany Music Department webpage:
Jeff Waggoner has written book, CD and concert reviews for publications such as Metroland, Jazz Times, Blues Access and The New York Times. He lives in Nassau, is a student of jazz saxophone and guitar and can be frequently found at jazz, blues and folk concerts.