Saturday, May 01, 2010

David Binney - Aliso (Criss Cross, 2010)

Alto saxophonist David Binney is a vibrant force on the modern mainstream jazz scene releasing many albums as a sideman and a leader, running his own label and recording regularly for the Dutch label Criss Cross. He is joined on this album by Jacob Sacks or John Escreet on piano, Eivind Opsvik on bass, Wayne Krantz on guitar and Dan Weiss on drums. The music is a nice mix of originals and modern jazz covers. The album begins with a couple of original compositions, "Aliso," taken at a medium-fast tempo and featuring a snaking electric guitar solo and a saxophone feature that builds to fast flurries of notes. "A Day in Music" has a choppy opening, with strong saxophone swirling over rapid drums. Sparks of guitar illuminate the music over a strong backbeat. Among the covers a couple of Wayne Shorter compositions are featured, "Toy Tune" and particularly "Teru" which is a very nice ballad, where Binney takes his time and develops a slow and smoky solo. They keep the performance brief, emotional and pointed. Also featured are compositions by Sam Rivers and John Coltrane. "Fuscia Swing Song," the Rivers composition, is a potent and sharp performance, beginning with the urgent melody and developing washes of blazing free-bop saxophone. "Think of One" by Thelonious Monk is typically quirky and exploratory, with great bass and drum interplay, but the highlight may well be the lengthy exploration of the John Coltrane song "Africa." This is one of the lesser performed pieces of the Coltrane canon, and the band sets a dark and mysterious mood before breaking out into potent solos. Strong percussive piano and deep stark saxophone build to a fast and strong full band improvisation. It was really nice to hear contemporary jazz musicians explore some of the music from Africa/Brass, a Coltrane album that often falls under the radar. Aliso - amazon.com

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