Don Byron and the sounds of legendary gospel artists Thomas A. Dorsey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe
For over two decades, Don Byron, a recipient of the first Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, has been a singular voice in an astounding 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, hip-hop, funk, rhythm & blues, klezmer, or any jazz style from swing and bop to cutting-edge downtown improvisation. He has been consistently voted best clarinetist by critics and readers alike in leading international music journals since being named "Jazz Artist of the Year" by Down Beatin 1992. Acclaimed as much for his restless creativity as for his unsurpassed virtuosity as a player, Byron has presented a multitude of projects at major music festivals around the world.
Once known as "the father of Black Gospel Music", Thomas A. Dorsey was a pioneer in combining traditional Christian hymns with the rhythmic disciplines of Jazz and Blues - an almost rebellious perspective shared also by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, another key musical reference for Byron. Both stretched and blew apart the boundaries of traditional gospel structures and performance and in doing so created a template for a unique form of spiritual expression grounded in African American culture.