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Auster and Byron in concert

Author Paul Auster and jazz clarinetist Don Byron will join forces as guest artists with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble and clarinetist Evan Ziporyn in a program titled "Words and Music and other Sonic Collaborations" on Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Admission is $5 at the door.

The performance is part of MIT's "Words and Music" series, which pairs spoken word artists with composers and improvisers.

Joining Byron at this concert will be guitarist David Gilmore, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Ben Wittman.

Paul Auster is one of America's leading novelists. He has published poems, essays, translations and movie scripts, but is best known for two of his novels: "The New York Trilogy" and "The Music of Chance." New York Newsday has called his novels "beautifully designed artifacts, intellectual puzzles dedicated to the proposition that life is a mystery ruled by chaos and chance." His most recent novel, "Oracle Night," just appeared in paperback. He wrote and directed the 1998 film, "Lulu on the Bridge," in which he cast Don Byron.

For more than a decade, Byron has been a singular voice in a dizzying range of musical contexts, exploring widely divergent traditions while continually striving for what he calls "a sound above genre." As clarinetist, composer, arranger and social critic, he redefines every genre of music he plays, be it classical, salsa, hip-hop, funk, klezmer or jazz--from swing and be-bop to cutting-edge downtown improvisation.

Byron has been consistently voted best clarinetist by critics and readers alike in leading music journals; he was named Jazz Artist of the Year by Down Beat in 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, including Vienna, Hong Kong, London and New Zealand. He recently received his first Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category for his performance on "I Want To Be Happy" on his album "Ivey-Divey."

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, directed by Frederick Harris, is a student ensemble that performs a broad range of repertoire spanning traditional and contemporary jazz styles. Recent guest artists have included Kenny Werner, Steve Turre and Joe Lovano.

An acclaimed clarinetist and composer in his own right, Professor Evan Ziporyn has collaborated with Don Byron for the past several years, most recently on a soon-to-be-released CD for Cantaloupe Records. He is a member of the Bang on a Can All-stars (Musical America's 2005 Ensemble of the Year) and the Steve Reich Ensemble, as well as director of MIT's Gamelan Galak Tika. Ziporyn has also worked with, among others, Paul Simon, DJ Spooky, Meredith Monk, Matthew Shipp, Henry Threadgill, and Cecil Taylor. He is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music at MIT.

"Words and Music" is presented by the Music and Theater Arts Section in collaboration with the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. For more information, call 617-253-9800.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 2, 2005 (download PDF).

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