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December 2006

David Binney
Out of Airplanes
Mythology Records

Alto saxophonist David Binney’s talents as a writer and leader stand out most on his fascinating new release. Not to undermine his chops, but Binney doesn’t take many solo spots here so much as introduce the themes and act as a catalyst for his impressive bandmates: guitarists Bill Frisell and (on two tracks) Adam Rogers, keyboardist Craig Taborn, bassist Eiyvind Opsvik and drummer Kenny Wollesen. At the same time, these pieces don’t ask for traditional solo space either.

What comes across most noticeably on Out of Airplanes are Binney’s diverse takes on melody. In less than two minutes, “Wild Child” creates a complete, flowing idea that needs no more embellishment. On “Contributors,” all five musicians play parallel parts that work together and never sound busy. Beauty and ferocity come across in the title track, which begins with a lilting theme before things collapse into some free blowing and rebuild into a groove that solicits trademark Frisell wails. Opsvik edited half the tracks, including two group compositions that sound like samples fused into a modern On the Corner riff. The bassist’s “Jan Mayen” is a slow, pensive ballad where Binney does get a chance to stretch out, and even as Frisell and Taborn get increasingly wilder, things never lose touch with the gentility at the music’s core.

Originally published in December 2006
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