Don Byron - Do The Boomerang

Blue Note 3410942 | ***
Byron (ts, cl, bcl), David Gilmore (g), George Colligan (org), Curtis Fowlkes (tb), Brad Jones (b), Rodney Holmes (d), Dean Bowman (v) and Chris Thomas King (v, g).
Rec. 2006

Don Byron - Do The BoomerangByron has always been a widescreen practitioner of black music (or just modern music period) so it makes perfect sense for him to be tackling the repertoire of the revered 60s soul man Junior Walker. As he did on his reprises of Hendrix, Mandrill and Roy Orbison on previous projects, Byron shows that he has a firm grip on the mechanics of short, tight song-form. So sharp, zippy arrangements and incisive solos – that sometimes function as very effective countermelodies against Bowman or King's brilliant vocal performances – are the order of the day. Most importantly, the outstanding band really grooves.

Yet for all the plus points on this very enjoyable album, things don’t quite fall into place as one would have hoped. The main problem here is the way the sound has been captured. Some pieces come off very cold and detached while others simply lack a big enough bottom end; the sense of hearty weight created by the all important baritone sax on Walker’s original oeuvre is sorely missed. It’s hard to escape the feeling that the tuba of Howard Johnson or Dave Bargeron – particularly on ‘Roadrunner’ – would have really taken Boomerang to a higher level. Despite these shortcomings, Byron plays soulfully and creatively [particularly on tenor] and one senses this music could really come alive in the journey from the studio to the stage.

Kevin Le Gendre