American clarinetist Don Byron didn’t hesitate when the Markham Jazz Festival’s new artistic director asked him to be the event’s first-ever artist-in-residence.
“He is one of my dearest friends; any excuse that I have to be around him, I’ll take it,” said Byron of the overture from Toronto composer/guitarist Michael Occhipinti, curator of the 13th annual program of free and ticketed concerts that runs Friday to Sunday.
Each day of the festival will find Byron performing in a different configuration: at Friday’s gala with bassist Cameron Brown’s Hear & Now quartet; helming his own New Gospel Quintet on Saturday; and Sunday with Occhipinti’s new band Triodes.
Longtime fans will be keen on the Canadian premiere of Byron’s year-old gospel project, which primarily plays the music of Chicago composer Thomas A. Dorsey who was known as “the father of gospel music.”
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