, a progressive artist with one foot in the mainstream and the other in the avant-garde, has gracefully skirted the tenuous divide between traditions for over two decades. Regularly alternating between semi-casual blowing dates and far more ambitious projects, Binney follows up the relatively straight-ahead Aliso (Criss Cross, 2010) and lavish Third Occasion (Mythology, 2009) with the expansive Graylen Epicenter. Featuring a host of Binney's longstanding associates, this wide-ranging session offers a compelling portrait of the enterprising artist's multifarious skills.
A singular talent with an affinity for sophisticated, contrapuntal arrangements, Binney's harmonious writing facilitates a variety of creative interpretations from his sidemen. The melodious, open-ended title track features a probing electric guitar solo from Wayne Krantz
convey the same eloquently articulated intensity they have on many of Binney's previous records.
Revisiting the polyrhythmic cross-cultural fusions of his collaborations with Venezuelan-born pianist Edward Simon, the percussion heavy line-up features a rotating roster of all-star talent. Percussionists Kenny Wollesen
on trap set, with a third of the album featuring Blade and Weiss playing drums simultaneously. "All of Time," demonstrates the rousing fervor such meetings can generate, as Blade and Weiss enthusiastically solo over the tune's martial ostinato, prefacing Taborn's locomotive filigrees and Binney's cathartic declarations.
Brimming with controlled fervor, Binney's solo statements are models of architectural logic. Whether trading pithy rejoinders with Taborn on the funky abstraction "Equality At Low Levels" or negotiating a labyrinthine gauntlet of polyrhythmic percussion with a series of pointed motifs on "Any Years Costume," Binney's judicious combination of unfettered zeal and knowing restraint perfectly complements his multifaceted writing. Gretchen Parlato
frequently shadows Binney's circuitous melodies with virtuosic vocalese; her euphonious tone and dulcet phrasing adds a sublime emotional undercurrent to the leader's sonorous themes. Doubling his lines on tracks like the lyrical "Everglow" and the airy miniature "Same Stare, Different Thought," she wordlessly conveys the same soulful quality as the heartfelt lyrics she contributes to "Home."
Bolstered by the committed performances of his veteran accomplices, Graylen Epicenter is one of Binney's most poignant and affecting releases, ranking alongside the equally assiduous efforts of such celebrated peers as Joel Harrison