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Robert Black

Don Byron

Felix Fan

Lisa Moore

Bang On A Can All Stars

Iva Bittova

Don Byron & Felix Fan

photos by Albert brooks
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Bang On A Can All Stars w/Don Byron
Swyer Theatre @ The Egg
Albany, NY
January 26, 2007

by Jeff Waggoner

If it isn’t too early, I would like to put in a nomination for a best concert of the year – the Bang on a Can All Stars with Don Byron, who convened at the Egg earlier this year.
An artist who wasn’t a headliner at this concert, but should have been, was Iva Bittova, the avant-garde violinist/vocalist from Slovakia whose singing (which included high pitched barks and chirps) was both beautiful and engaging.  She led the first half of the concert in a performance-art effort that drove a few people to the door, but left 99 percent of the audience entranced with her ethereal like songs and playing.
The second half of the concert was let by the jazz clarinetist and composer, Don Byron, who, it is safe to say, is sui generis in music.  Byron is a musician who would be much more wildly appreciated if he didn’t so regularly fail to fulfill stereotypes of what a jazz musician should be.
Bang on the Can is usually considered a classical group, so Byron’s work with them is as a composer of chamber music. And, in my judgment, some of Byron’s best compositions have been done with Bang on a Can, including the music they performed at the Egg and for the CD A Ballad for Many (Cantelope).
It’s hoped that a Ballad for Many is just the first step toward the chameleon-like Byron takes toward staking his claim as a significant art-music composer. 
Gratefully, the concert is just the first of what may be many more “new music” concerts that happen at the Egg.
Egg executive director Peter Lesser said as much before the performance, when he announced a new effort to showcase “new music” at the Egg in a project he calls “New Work, NY”
According to Lesser, the next is set for February 24:
Saturday, February 24, 8:00 PM
Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) is a composer, performer, violinist, and bandleader who seamlessly blends funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into a new sonic vision. THE MISSION, features strings, percussion, keyboards, DJ, and a laptopist perform DBR’s dramatic soul-inspiring pieces all embracing modern musical genres woven with a multicolored spectrum of popular music.
Friday, March 23, 8:00 PM
Ethel is four world-class musicians playing a bluesy, hard swinging, playful repertoire that defies categorization. Performing music by an eclectic array of today’s most adventurous composers, Ethel’s high-voltage approach can sound like a great '60s rock group and evoke the Motown sound while displaying the virtuosity that any great classical ensemble would envy.
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.