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Don Byron: Soul Jerkin’

Don Byron

Junior Walker tends to be dismissed as a mere footnote by popular musical historians as the man behind a couple of mid-’60s hits that still play on oldies stations. At a time when urbane black pop ruled the charts, Walker was Motown’s de facto chitlin’ soul artist, but with a catch-combining top-shelf tenor playing with a roughhewn vocal style to match, Walker was the rare artist responsible for his own call-and-response dialogues. And if it was uptempo and raucous you wanted, you looked no further than Autry “Junior Walker” and his All Stars, whether you were Sly Stone, Maceo Parker or Pharoah Sanders.

Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker is Don Byron’s sixth Blue Note album and first extended studio outing on tenor saxophone. That Byron would choose to cover 11 Walker numbers-in addition to James Brown’s “There It Is”-provides yet another testimonial to the enduring influence of our earliest musical impressions-Saturdays at the Apollo in Harlem proving especially indelible for Byron.

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