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David Binney: Graylen Epicenter

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The first unexpected moment on David Binney’s continually surprising Graylen Epicenter comes in an extended passage on the opening track, “All of Time.” Against a brusque, oddly repeating six-note phrase by the horn section that initially makes you think your CD player is stuck, dual drummers Brian Blade and Dan Weiss engage in a graceful, melodic, sweeping pas de deux. Pianist Craig Taborn further energizes things with his darting lines, and then the piece goes quiet for a piano interlude before Binney re-stokes the song’s lyrical urgency. “If I could only see you/If I could only touch you,” he sings again and again, his voice full of desperate longing.

With its contemporary melodies, avant edges and minimalist measures, its ostinatos and rubato passages and even rock operatics, Graylen Epicenter never stays in one place long. Binney has all kinds of weapons to add to his heat-seeking alto saxophone and charged soprano: Gretchen Parlato’s wonderful wordless vocals, nicely played down in the mix; Chris Potter’s tenor, which excitingly tangles with the leader’s alto on “Terrorists and Movie Stars”; guitarist Wayne Krantz, who provides electric and acoustic textures; and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, who is entrusted with the album’s resounding last notes.

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