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David Binney: Third Occasion

Fresh ideas beam from every angle in Third Occasion, as the alto saxophonist leads a supple quartet of star players through a warm, reflective and instantly engaging set of closely related original works.

The nine tracks share a living, breathing quality, filled with elusive, shifting layers of color and texture that are almost too subtle to discern individually. But it’s worth the effort to try. This is the sort of disc that calls for quality headphones and rewards dedicated listening.

It’s the simpatico nature of the quartet that makes this disc work so well. Pianist Craig Taborn builds shimmering structures from tiny, discrete particles, matching Binney’s intricacy and cerebral approach while balancing the leader’s sharply inquisitive sax lines with a serene touch. In the rhythm section, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade offer a sort of running commentary, creating an unobtrusive yet essential dialogue that supports and embellishes the whole.

Lurking in the wings, Binney has a secret weapon: a four-man brass section that is deployed at strategic moments to enrich the sound, kicking each tune into a gently uplifting mode through slow, unified harmonic enhancement. It’s a nice effect, and also creates a sort of narrative thread that runs throughout the disc, from the calm undulation of the opening tracks to the stony resolution of its end.

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Forrest Dylan Bryant