David Binney: alto saxophone; Jacob Sacks: piano; Eivind Opsvick: bass; Dan Weiss: drums - Guests: Jen Shyu: vocals; Shai Golan: alto saxophone.
Long-revered altoist phenomenon David Binney is certainly proud of having created a very personal style within the modern jazz. In the course of his remarkable career, he has joined forces with other ingenious artists such as Chris Potter, Bill Frisell, Donny McCaslin, Craig Taborn, Scott Colley, Edward Simon, Brian Blade and Kenny Wollesen. Those collaborations spawned truly exhilarating albums - Free to Dream (Mythology, 98), Welcome to Life (Mythology, 04), Out of Airplanes (Mythology, 06), and Graylen Epicenter (Mythology, 11) should be on the shelves of any jazz lover. The brand new The Time Verses is now out to join them.
His compositional structure and patterns are immediately identifiable in “Walk”, which flows with a rock pulse for a while until decelerating toward an oneiric passage efficiently controlled by the rhythm section. The final part thrives with cyclic harmonic sequences, so appropriate for Binney’s resolute attacks and imaginative phrases replete with intervallic wisdom. Vocal samples and electronics are tastefully added.
Airing a folk-ish melody, “Arc” is a ballad that grows athletic muscle throughout Binney’s improvisation, returning to the soft primary movements in order to conclude. However, the Zen trophy goes to “Seen”, a soaring balm for the spirit and mind, earnestly sung by Jen Shyu, who also wrote the lyrics. After Opsvik’s empathic solo, Binney sets off on a soulful, quasi-metaphorical improvisation that defies time and space. His wise sense of resolution, especially after ‘outside’ flights, is a rare gift.
A jittery intro of sax and drums in “The Reason to Return” seems to push us into heavier territories. Despite more saturated in color, the tune remains faithful to the bandleader’s philosophy as he embarks on edgy declarations congested with melodic awareness, well followed by Weiss’s graceful rhythmic drives and Sacks' exciting piano swirls.
“Where Worlds Collide” is a typical-Binney creation, well structured from roots to branches and rejoicing with plenty of life. Weiss enchants with his percussive clear-sightedness, and after the tremendous saxophone bursts, Sacks shows why he’s one of the most rhythmically daring pianists on the scene. This particular tune features guest saxophonist Shai Golan on the theme statement.
A bracing swing takes hold of “Fifty Five” whose title makes reference to the 55 Bar in NY where this quartet often plays. The tune intersects Binney’s fluid language with moods of Wayne Shorter and Sam Rivers.
The Time Verses gives us everything we could expect from a visionary saxophonist of multiple talents and resources as David Binney. This is his most brilliant work in years.
Label: Criss Cross, 2017
06 – Seen ► 08 – The Reason to Return ► 11 – Where Worlds Collide