The Jazzcat

Don Byron at The Palace of Fine Arts for the San Francisco Jazz Festival

by on Nov.11, 2005, under News


Well, the afternoon concerts here at SF Jazz are quite a bit

different.  The main focus of these

performances is on the children.  As a

matter of fact, they take precedent over their parents who brought them here.  The adults are to sit quietly while the

children are encouraged to ask questions, clap, dance, and do all of those

things that the child in us would love to do. 


The set is limited to forty-five minutes so that the

attention is kept on the music and the ADD doesn’t take control.  At the end of the performance, there will be

a question and answer session only for the kids.  The adults can hold all of their questions

until the evening performance.


Don Byron came out on stage and seemed to be the perfect

host for this performance.  The set is

very kid friendly; and that is not to say that the music is dumbed-down in any

way.  It was just like an episode of “Sesame Street” back

in the day when they had someone cool like Miles or Joe Henderson visit the

show.  Don’t act like you don’t know what

I’m talking about because I know that you were watching, too.  For some of you, “Sesame Street” is probably an everyday

occurrence.  You would have loved it.  It is not every day that you see tomorrow’s

musical minds be afforded the opportunity to go to an adult concert that is

specifically targeted at them and be catered to.


Klezmer music.  What

is it and who are Sam Musiker and Dave Tarras? Well, Don’s performance today is

in the Klezmer tradition, and Sam and Dave are two twentieth century clarinetists

who collaborated, recorded and blended Jewish folk music with the

characteristics of jazz and produced music for happy times.



Don speaks to the audience like it is filled with children,

and for the most part that is true.  However,

at the same time, this is great information for adults who would probably never

take time to ask the questions that pique their curiosity.  Don shows the kids how he bends the notes

with his clarinet and then proceeds to have each of his players demonstrate

their instrument as he explains how it works. 

He is very personable and wonderful with this musical power that he has

over the children.  He has all of their

wonder, amazement, energy and attention right in his hands and the kids feed on

it like ice cream.


Some of the children obviously have some experience with

music.  One kid yells out, “The bassoon

is a double-reed instrument.”  Wow, this

is a pretty intelligent group of youngsters. 

I get to take home some knowledge as well!  Don realized who he was dealing with and went

on to play more interesting music.



Klezmer music is fun and celebratory.  It is music for happy and festive occasions.  I visualize the weddings where the bride and

groom are in chairs and their party raises and parades them above their heads.  Don’s show is like a clinic and he gives the

name, history and interesting artifacts about each piece.  While he is playing, children are dancing,

some with their parents and others in a group down near the stage.  Enjoying live music performances should be a prerequisite

for the life of children everywhere.  Children

don’t forget these experiences and multiple exposures to the music will

intrigue young minds, create artistic thinkers, breed budding musicians and

re-emphasize the importance of jazz, culture and music back into the world.


It is amazing how kids respond to this music.  Well, this music does invite happiness and

good times.  So when it is loud, the kids

rage with energetic abundance.  When it

is quieter, the kids get real quiet, too. 

Tanz” is Yiddish for “dance”

and dance they do! Right next to me is a father dancing with his little

daughter.  The bonding is lifelong and

unforgettable.  When that girl becomes a

woman she will tell others how she used to dance with her father and those will

be some of her fondest memories as a child. 

Family, dancing and music–a perfect combination for a Sunday afternoon!



Although the setting is informal, you still get great

quality music from the players.  Don

gives a little of his history, where he grew up and how the music influenced

him.  There were some younger babies that

were making a little noise while Don was speaking, but when the music started,

what sounded like noise turned into the joyful sounds that we all like to make

when the music is especially good to us. 

I heard some of the kids screaming to the sound of the clarinet and the

oboe just like we would be screaming while watching Trane at the “Five Spot.”


These days, people are too concerned with etiquette and

embarrassment to just let it out.  But

there is nothing like the brash truth of youth. 

Well, if we did let it out like that, we would probably be escorted out by



There is no mistaking Klezmer music.  It is rich with culture and stands out

prominently as its own special music.  Forty-five

minutes came and went by so enjoyably quick. 

The children were the magic to the music and their attention was not at

a deficit. 


image imageimage

When the lights came up, the first kid to ask a question was

named Thelonious! You got to dig that! The Q & A session ranged from the

intelligent to the not so, but everyone stayed around and had fun



The one note that I wish to leave with is that whenever and

wherever I go to see and hear jazz music, I usually see one predominant color

of people and they do not look like me! To them, I would like to say thank you

for supporting jazz music.  Without you,

where would the music be? And, to those who do look like me, I invite you to

come out and be recognized in the jazz populace.  Be present, especially when you are afforded

the opportunity to bring your children.  YOUKNOWHADIMSAYIN’! image


LeRoy Downs

Leave a Reply

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...