Don Byron – Do The Boomerang

Don Byron
Do The Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker
(Blue Note – 2006)
by Matthew Robinson

Always one to reach out in new directions, Don Byron now reaches back not so much to the history that inspired him (as he did on his tribute to the Tuskeegee airen) but to the music. The result is an album of soul for a new generation.

Sliding into the gentle Leslied spin of “Cleo’s Groove,” Byron hops off guitartst David Gilmore’s rockabillied back for the roadhouse blues revival “Ain’t That the Truth.” Though the title track starts off fun and free with Byron’s klez-y clarinet, Chris Thomas King’s vocals are a bit too reserved to inspire dancing. Fortunately, after shuffling through another Nile-istic journey (“Mark Anthony Speaks”), Byron and the boys kick it up for Junior’s signature song, “Shotgun,” keeping up the funk for a gunty run through James Brown’s “There It Is” that lets King play Godfather and Byron play Maceo.

“Satan’s Blues” is not so hot and “Tally Ho” may not inspire the hounds, but Byron’s harmonic tonguings on “What Does it Take” return the album almost to the opening groove. Even so, Byron feels the needs to pump it up one last time with a jarring rendition of the Holland-Dozier-Holland chestnut “I’m a Roadrunner” that again skirts the line between vertical and horizontal dancing.

©2006 Matthew S. Robinson ARR