Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz
Black History Month SeriesWednesday, February 23, 2011, 8:00 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm)reunion of groundbreaking and virtuosic klezmer ensemble $22.50 advance / $24.50 at doorPurchase tickets online
February 23 8:00 pm

A klezmer show as part of Black History Month: what's up with that? Let Don Byron and his powerful band show you tonight, as they illuminate one of the many fruitful musical collaborations between the African American and Jewish communities--and knock your socks off into the bargain! (For further examples of such collaborations, look no further than the jazz of Benny Goodman and Johnny Mathis' famed rendition of "Kol Nidre.") This show is dedicated to the music of the late great Mickey Katz, clarinetist, Yiddish humorist, klezmer bandleader, and musical director for Spike Jones. Featuring tunes like "Haim Afen Range" ("Home on the Range") and "Seder Dance" (an amazing adaptation of Khachaturian's "Saber Dance"), the performance explores the full range of Mickey's virtuosity and wacky humor.

A reunion of many of the musicians who appeared on Don's eponymous Nonesuch album in the early 1990s, tonight's show features JD Parran (woodwinds), Charles Lewis (trumpet), Alan Ferber (trombone), Jessie Montgomery (violin), Daniel Kelly (piano), Kenny Davis (bass), Ben Wittman (drums), and vocalist Jack Falk.

For over two decades, Bronx native Don Byron has been a singular voice in a broad range of musical contexts, exploring widely divergent traditions while continually striving for what he calls "a sound above genre." As clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, arranger, and social critic, he redefines every genre of music he plays, be it classical, salsa, funk, klezmer, or any jazz style from swing and bop to cutting-edge improvisation. After he began playing klezmer music at New England Conservatory in 1980, Don was especially attracted to Mickey Katz's arrangements, which offered sophistication and an irresistible wit, as well as Mickey's unique contributions to the klezmer clarinet tradition.

Mickey Katz (1909-1985) was a celebrated klezmer bandleader and Yiddish humorist, and the father of actor/comedian Joel Grey. A witty and innovative clarinetist and composer, Mickey brought virtuosity and a compulsive comedy to the klezmer tradition, both with Spike Jones in the '40s and later on his own. In his recordings, compositions, and English-Yiddish stage revues like the 1948 "Borscht Capades" he created hilarious parodies that revel in the unique identity of Jewish Americans. His particular style allowed him to make fun of America's most popular, traditional, and stereotypical songs while at the same time providing an inside joke for his Yiddish-speaking audience.

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