Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Taylor Ho Bynum 9-Tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (Firehouse 12)

A review of the the cornetist-led nonet's latest project

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette, The Ambiguity Manifesto
Cover of The Ambiguity Manifesto by the Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette

Taylor Ho Bynum’s 2013 release Navigation consisted of four different versions of the album-length title composition. So it should come as no surprise that The Ambiguity Manifesto features three compositions that each receive two different examinations by the cornetist’s 9-tette, along with one additional piece. Of course, this is not a case of master and alternate takes. The group refracts the original guidelines that Bynum, a longtime Anthony Braxton associate, has composed, coming up with something vastly different each time.

A surprise does come, however, with “Neither When Nor Where,” which opens the album with a groove that feels a lot like “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down.” Bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi and guitarist Mary Halvorson add to the vamp while cellist Tomeka Reid and acoustic bassist Ken Filiano offer some vicious bowing. Unlike the Bitches Brew track, this one includes a bridge and a fully developed melody. “Enter (G) Neither,” its counterpart, lasts three times longer, referencing the melody only after 13 minutes of free flight. As on most of this album, the two brass, two saxophones, and strings never clutter up the sound, maintaining direction even if a tempo doesn’t exist. This focus works especially well in “(G)host(aa/ab),” a 17-minute suite track that pairs different players off in free improvisations; the climax arrives when Bynum and alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs play an elliptical melody that comes off like a mutated canon, ending in a slow fade.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.

Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at shanleyonmusic.blogspot.com.