Multisaxophonist and composer Chris Byars will be touring Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East with his new quartet from February 23rd until March 21, 2007. Byars will be acting as a designated cultural emissary for the US Department of State, the modern day continuation of the “Jazz Ambassador” legacy that began with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie, and is now run under the aegis of the American Music Abroad program and administered through Jazz At Lincoln Center. Byars and his associates will perform and hold workshops in Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Montenegro, and Slovenia. The month-long itinerary is densely packed with dozens of concerts and numerous workshops, extending the reach of jazz and democracy to thousands of enthusiastic music lovers.
The tour will feature the new Chris Byars quartet performing some of Byars’ most creative musical works to date. The music is featured on Byars’ newest recording due out March 10, 2007 entitled Jazz Pictures At An Exhibition of Himalayan Art (srcd-0032). In many ways, this record is Byars’ love letter to the world, inspired in part by his previous world tour with master bassist Ari Roland during Roland’s 2007 tenure as a designated Jazz Ambassador. Ari Roland rejoins Byars this year, along with trombone luminary John Mosca, director of the legacy Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and distinguished educator, and drummer Stefan Schatz. The album features nine new compositions, each inspired by a work of Himalayan Art from the historic collection of the Rubin Museum in New York. The works were originally commissioned as a part of the “Harlem In The Himalayas” series run by the museum. The music is highly creative, exploring a number of unusual forms while remaining faithful to the idea of jazz. The record will be pressed into the service of musical diplomacy and given out to scores of participants in the course of the tour as a lasting memento.
We are proud to be participating in these tours, and feel that jazz is one of the strongest proponents of real democracy, able to capture the hearts of people of all races and creeds around the world.