Don Byron / plays the music of Mickey Katz

Review | Personnel | Songlist

For more information:

About Don Byron

Don Byron has also recorded for the Knitting Factory Works (among others)

An Informal Mickey Katz Discography

Mickey Katz: Haimishe Vebpage

Other Mickey Katz music on these pages:

Mickey Katz / Simcha Time

Album cover: Don Byron with rubber chicken.

Don Byron
plays the music of Mickey Katz

Elektra Entertainment 79313-2, 1993
75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10019
345 North Maple Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

So, can a black musician have Jewish soul? I mean, sure some Jews can play jazz (Benny Goodman!), but can blacks play klez? At least in this case, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Byron first came to the notice of klezmer fans as the lead clarinet player for Boston's wonderful Klezmer Conservatory Band. He is also known as a habitue of New York's Knitting Factory--home of interesting jazz and a well-known John Zorn hangout. (The Klezmatics hang there, too.)

I'll cut right to the review. This is the album that Mickey Katz would have made if he were around today. Byron clearly understands Katz, his music, where he was coming from--the ganze megillah. Byron is also an incredible musician, so there are wonderful breaks of pure klezzified jazz on this album. And the fun--if the Litvak Square Dance doesn't get you, try to escape the "Mechaye War Chant" without thinking of Cab Calloway or that "Chinese" blues oddity, "Hong Kong." If I were to introduce someone today to Mickey Katz' work, I'd point them at this album, rather than to Katz rereleases, as the better starting point.

Byron on Mickey Katz

(quotes from the CD booklet)

... [He] dived headlong into the chasm between America's immigrant population and a social order that held--and still holds--WASP-iness as its highest value.

... Mickey was a departure from earlier Yiddish entertainers and klezmer traditionalists. His lyrics contained few sentimental references to a romanticized "old country," but instead reflected ocntemporary Jewish-American life. His songs portrayed people who were in touch with both ethnic traditions and the consistently changing array of people, cultures and information that was, and is, America....

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 7/8/95

I believe that Katz' album, Mickey Katz' Greatest Hits is still available, for those more interesting in his Yiddish parodies ("Hermendel's Koch-a-lain", Comin' 'Round the Katzkills," etc.).

Katz' klezmer material has also been rereleased on the wonderful new CD, Simcha Time, World Pacific CDP 7243 8 305453 2 7, 1994.

Personnel this recording:
Don Byron: clarinet, vocals on Mechaya War Chant, conductor
J. D. Parran: clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, flute
Mark Feldman: violin, background vocals
Dave Douglas: trumpet, background vocals
Josh Roseman: trombone, horse lips, boat whistle, background vocals
Uri Caine: piano, background vocals
Steve Alcott: bass
Richie Schwarz: drums, percussion, xylophone
Lorin Sklamberg: lead vocals on Sweet and Gentle, Litvak Square Dance, C'est Si Bon, Trombonik Tanz, Dreidel Song, Seder Dance, Paisach in Portugal, and Kiss of Meyer
Avi Hoffman: lead vocals on Haim Afen Range and Mechaye War Chant, background vocals

Guest Artists

Brandon Ross: guitars on Prologue and Haim Afen Range
Jerry Gonzalez: Latin percussion on Sweet and Gentle
Dan Hovey: Hawaiian guitar on Mechaya War Chant (and guitar), and Epilogue
Jay Berliner: mandolin on Paisach in Portugal
Loretta Malta: background vocals on Paisach in Portugal
Rosalie Gerut: additional vocals


  1. Prologue (Byron) 4:08
  2. Frailach Jamboree (Katz) 2:34
  3. Haim Afen Range (Katz/traditional) 2:49
  4. Mamaliege Dance (Farber-Katz) 2:23
  5. Sweet and Gentle (Portal/Thorn) 3:02
  6. Litvak Square Dance (Katz) 2:08
  7. C'est Si Bon (Seelen/Betti/Hornez) 2:27
  8. Trombonik Tanz (Farber-Katz) 3:14
  9. Bar Mitzvah Special (Singer/Farber) 3:02
  10. Dreidel Song (traditional) 4:48
  11. Seder Dance (Katz, after "Saber Dance," Khachaturian) 2:12
  12. Paisach in Portugal (after "April in Portugal," by Feed/Noble) 3:08
  13. Berele's Sherele (Gill-Farber) 1:48
  14. Mechaya War Chant (Katz, after "Hawaiian War Chant" by Freed/Noble) 2:50
  15. Kiss of Meyer (after "Kiss of Fire" by Allan/Hill) 2:20
  16. Epilogue: Tears (Byron) 7:12
  17. Wedding Dance (Katz) 2:26

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