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The Year ’04 in Review: Top 50 CDs

Don Byron
Don Byron
Maria Schneider
Don Byron
Andy Bey
Branford Marsalis
Dave Douglas
Von Freeman
Dizzy Reece

We had our voters-critics and industry folk-rank their favorite CDs in order, and the No. 1 disc received 10 points, the No. 2 disc received 9 points and so on. The total points for each CD are listed after each review.

Don Byron


(Blue Note)

What we said: Clarinetist Don Byron’s tribute to a 1946 recording by a Lester Young bass-less trio with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich more than works-it is outrageous and sublime….Jason Moran’s powerful piano injects constant surprise and ideational density into the group improvisations, while drummer Jack DeJohnette, with his crashing strategic eruptions and running side commentaries, always instigates….As for Byron, he plays with a wild abandon made meaningful by the clarity of his overarching purpose. He is after not the literal language but the spirit of the Young trio: “very joyous sounding, but also cerebral.” Performances begin with embedded vintage material associated with Young like “Somebody Loves Me” (in two epic takes) and “I’ve Found a New Baby,” and escalate into maelstroms of ecstasy and analysis….With Ivey-Divey, Don Byron has finally made a major album.

-Thomas Conrad, Oct 2004

What we say: Digging up one of Pres’ dusty grooves for inspiration has served Byron well-but who knew that the resulting CD, as high-minded as it is engaging, would be so great that it would be named JazzTimes’ album of the year? Byron’s Ivey-Divey sounds simultaneously classic and modern, cool and urgent, experimental and swinging-and Byron did it with a clarinet, raising the neglected instrument to the top of the heap. Somewhere, Benny Goodman is smiling (Lester Young, too)….74

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Originally Published