on April 3, 2010
Binney's 2010 release Aliso is very different from his 2009 release "Third Occasion". In Binney's last release the focus was on complex compositions written by Binney, here the focus is on the playing, improvisation, and interaction of the band members rather than the compositions themselves. On Aliso, of the 9 tracks, 5 are classics from the classic hard bop/post bop era of 50s and 60s (2 by W. Shorter, 1 by J. Coltrane, 1 by T. Monk, 1 by S. Rivers). The 4 Binney originals are some of his less complex tunes. On Aliso Binney is joined by musicians he has collaborated with in the past, including Wayne Krantz on guitar, Jacob Sacks on piano, Dan Weiss on drums, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and John Escreet adds a second piano on 2 tracks (Africa & A Day in Music). Dave mentions in his liner notes that all of the musicians were out on different tours prior to the recording date and it wasn't until the night before that everyone was back in town. When I first read this I thought, this probably means they didn't practice and the results won't be good, but in fact just the opposite is the case. The album has a very jammed out feel to it and it seems that each musician was really listening to what the others were doing and reacting to it. I read once that Miles Davis wouldn't hand out the songs and parts until the recording day because he wanted his musicians to create something spontaneous and have what the other musicians were doing impact their choices. Further he felt that if he handed out the parts earlier the musicians would come into the studio with their solos already planned out and one musician's solo would not be as influenced by another musician's solos. I'm not sure how much truth there is to this story, but perhaps he was on to something. The solos on Aliso are just fantastic from start to finish and everyone seems to be in tune with each other. The chaotic deconstructed piano solo in Africa, is beautifully followed by something of a similar style by Wayne Krantz. While each solo in its own right is great, the fact that the two are so simlar and flow together so well is what makes the tune magical. This is one of Binney's best CDs.
Strata - Here the piano doubles the bass line, which creates a real strong groove that the players rally around. In liner notes Binney says Charles Tolliver and McCoy Tyner were strong influences. The doubling of the bass and piano line reminds me of Jeremy Pelt's recent work with Danny Grissett on Pelt's release November. I really like the technique.
Fuchsia Swing Song - This is a great rendition of the Sam Rivers classic tune. The pace seems to a little bit faster than the original. Binney has a great melodic solo that darts around the theme. Jacob Sacks follows up with a fantastic two-handed piano solo that segues into a Dan Weiss drum solo.
Bar Life - This has the catchiest theme of the Binney compositions and has a nice section where there is an unaccompanied piano solot, that segues into a piano solo accompanied by bass and drums which highlights in a section where the bass and drums trade off between heavy block chords and pounding drums. Eventually the entire band returns and then a Krantz guitar romp ensues.
Africa - I love the original version by Coltrane, and I might love this version even more. This is the perfect jam tune so it is a fitting end to an album which really highlighted jammed out solos. Binney starts things of with a ferocious sax solo. This is followed up by a mind blowing piano solo. I'm not sure if it is Sacks or Escreet. It has a very avante garde, post modern feel to it segues beautifully in an even more out there guitar solo by Wayne Krantz. Krantz employs some wacky sounds to perfection. As Krantz's solos fades into cachophony, Binney returns over the top of the noise with a blistering recap solo. This is the best tune on the album and a must have for all Binney and Krantz fans.
This CD may be my favorite Binney CD. It is on par with my two previous favorites South and Out of Airplanes.
on August 14, 2010
If you're not aware of David Binney (and many outside of NYC probably aren't) consider this a wake up call. The writing and playing are inspired, original, angular and the arrangements feel fresh. And that's just for the originals. David's take on Coltrane's Africa alone is worth the price of the download/cd. Check out his set at Newport with Third Occasion quartet on the NPR site. Or check out his You Tube videos. Or his site. He's not just a great alto player with impressive chops but a leader with a sound and concept behind the technique. But buy this recording. You'll be glad you did.
on June 16, 2010
Excellent. I especially like Binney's rendition of "Africa" by Coltrane. The covers of Thelonious, Wayne Shorter, and Sam Rivers are all good as well. Binney's own material is woven together with the other tunes; all of the songs are interesting and engaging. I recommend all of Binney's albums.