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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


You Are #6

Blue Note 532 2312

Amazon UK

Subtitled More Music For Six Musicians, this album is in the same stylistic mould as Byronís 1995 Music For Six Musicians, if less overtly political. As with that album, Byron has turned to a relatively straight ahead jazz album in contrast to the rather eclectic, unfocussed (some might say schizophrenic) feel of his recent releases. The instrumentation is the same as on the 1995 album, with Byron on clarinets, Edsel Gomez on piano and Ben Whitman on drums surviving, joined here by James Zollar on trumpet and flugelhorn, Leo Traversa on bass and vocals, and Milton Cardona on congas, percussion and vocals.

Notice that I said "relatively straight head jazz album". As seasoned Byron-watchers will expect, there are occasional eccentric tangents. One such is "Dub-Ya", a short free-form instrumental and vocal piece that is doubtless aimed at G. W. Bush, but lacks the barbs one might expect. Overall though, this ensembleís guiding principle is to explore Afro-Caribbean and Latin rhythms, and it remains faithful to its mission. Throughout, the music is driven along by the percussion, achieving an infectious momentum in a variety of styles. "Shake ĎEm Up" is straight soca, complete with an ensemble horn section to propel things along, plus call-and-response vocals (and Don Byron Senior on bass). "A Whisper In My Ear" is dedicated to trumpeter Mario Bauza, one of Byronís musical mentors. It features a Latin rhythm, but is predominantly a showcase for some great soloing, led off by a driving solo from Byron himself, displaying his virtuosity unchecked, followed in similar fashion by Gomez and Zollar. In contrast, "No Whine" is a slow paced and effective feature for Byron, and acts as a refreshing respite from the relentless rhythms all around it. "Belmondoís Lip" is a feature for Zollar (muted) and Byron (on bass clarinet), an effective contrast of sounds. The piece appears straight, and in a second version mixed by DJ Spooky that transforms it into a dub version (another of those Byron tangents).

This album is a success. It is Byronís most sustained and enjoyable album for a while, probably since the live No-Vibe Zone.

John Eyles

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