David Binney: Third Occasion (2009)
Among the many considerable charms of alto saxophonist David Binney is his uncompromising spirit in jazz composition and performance. This spirit infuses every project he takes on, from his Xan Lang projects to his collaborations with pianist Edward Simon.
Third Occasion shows Binney's stroke of arranging genius in employing a four-horn brass section (trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Brad Mason and trombonists Corey King and Andy Hunter) for color beneath his crazy talented rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley, drummer Brian Blade, and pianist Craig Taborn. The four horns provide the effect of a brass string section.
Third Occasion is a jazz Also Sprach Zarathustra that is bookended by brief brass figures ("Introducao" and "End"), featuring the quartet of horns. The music that lies between is acoustic jazz traveling ahead of the razor's edge of 21st Century music. Thoroughly modern, lean and intelligently presented, this is modern jazz at its most efficient and economical. There is no free jazz excess and no avant-garde noodling here, only the stripped down musical truth.
The title piece is a moody mini-concerto for pianist Taborn and Binney though, to be fair, one should note the post-post bop drumming of Brian Blade also. Binney's tone is organically densefull and throaty, able to fill space efficiently with sound and melody. Binney has equal ability working with tonal space or "sheets of sound" and weaving between them.
Binney's powerful presence is no better heard than on "Solo," which is exactly what it titles, a solo recital. Binney plays a saxophone and a style that approaches Coltrane's ease of identification. His saxophone presence, like that of Coltrane, is one that will be listened to studiously and with great pleasure for years to come.
Track Listing: Introducao; Third Occasion; This Naked Sunday; Squares and Palaces; Solo; Here is All The Love I Have; Explaining What's Hidden; Blood of Cities; End.
Personnel: David Binney: alto saxophone; Craig Taborn: piano; Scott Colley: acoustic bass; Brian Blade: drums; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Brad Mason: trumpet, flugelhorn; Corey King: trombone; Andy Hunter: trombone.