David Binney

Lifted Land

Criss Cross Jazz 1358 CD
David Binney, Lifted Land

Personnel: David Binney: alto saxophone; Craig Taborn: piano; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Lifted Land is David Binney's sixth recording for the Criss Cross label and his third CD that is comprised of an original program (with one selection from Craig Taborn). One of the most gripping and distinctive alto players and composers of his generation, Binney leads a powerfully expressive quartet with longtime allies Craig Taborn on piano and Eivind Opsvik on bass and a new member to Binney’s program is the acclaimed leader and composer drummer, Tyshawn Sorey, in place of Binney´s long time drummer, Dan Weiss.

Lifted Land originates with an upper mid-tempo entitled, “Fanfare for Basu.” Binney and Tanborn state the melody which is followed by an interlude of overdubbed saxophones playing counterpoint to each other, and then the original theme is stated. “The Road to Your House” is comprised of a written angular mid-tempo theme with Binney’s warm reedy alto tone leading the way. As one has grown to expect Binney plays a very lyrical solo with Taborn’s solo statement displaying elements reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s style. The rhythm section is very interactive and keeps the conversation moving forward with “big ears.”

“As Snow Before a Summer Sun” showcases Opsvik’s arco bass playing with a nice woody sound and long arching phrases. The song is a series of lingering phrases coupled together with a minimalist approach. Binney’s A cappella solo statement is a call and response theme of fast and slow passages that relinquishes to Taborn’s menacing dissonant chordal voicings. A great example of this group’s ability to work as a unit is exemplified when Binney joins Taborn in a conversation improvisation and on the repeated closing statement.

As one has grown to expect from Binney, group improvisations are a big part of his musical style and “Curious About Texas” is a further exploration into this world by this particular ensemble. With a loose offer of a theme the quartet improvises builds to and explores with Binney playing an energetic solo with boisterous commentary from the rhythm section. Sorey is great at rhythmic commentary and keeping the flow of the pulse in clear perspective. The closer is “Red Cloud,” which highlights Taborn’s pen work and solo piano work, consisting of a series of meditative chords and is a logical journeys end to the sonic exploration of new land.

Binney again furthers his command of composing and group-leading with Lifted Land, appearing to focus on composing and group conception more than improvising. Overall, Binney's tunes are anthemic, evocative, yet prepared to venture into abstract terrain.

TRACKS: Fanfare For Basu (David Binney), The Road To Your House (David Binney), As Snow Before A Summer Sun (David Binney), The Blue Whale (David Binney), Curious About Texas (David Binney), Lifted Land (David Binney), Losing The Central Valley (David Binney), Red Cloud (Craig Taborn).

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H. Allen Williams