DON BYRON You Are #6 (Blue Note) Rating: NNNN
Of all clarinetist Don Byron's stylistic explorations, from hiphop to opera, none has clicked better than his 1996 disc Music For 6 Musicians. Blending his wide-screen jazz arrangements with salsa and more in his ongoing desire to mix things up, Byron sounded cohesive for once, and not gimmicky. He's returned to that successful formula for You Are #6. Subtitled More Music For Six Musicians, the album features his percussion-heavy ensemble creating thinking person's carnival music. A Henry Mancini theme is turned into a Cuban bata breakdown, and Byron tries his hand at jump-up calypso. It's all over the map yet still authentic-sounding.