Taylor Ho Bynum has immersed himself in different musical idioms over the years, giving voice to many colors in the context of several bands. The so-called SpiderMonkey Strings are one of the avenues he uses as a vent for his imagination. Stimulating the process are eight other musicians whose choice of instruments include violin, cello, viola, vibraphone, guitar, drums, and tuba. Bynum adds his cornet to the unusual mix.
The music on this recording comprises three suites. Each has its layer of surprises, whether up front and immediately noticeable, or subtle and quietly tantalizing. The moment is what captures the mood. The spirit of restlessness courses through "Part One" of the first suite. Bynum's cornet lights the fuse and turmoil courses through the structure, an incandescent fuse that manipulates the landscape. Joseph Daley's tuba is the molten hotbed that flows underneath while Jay Hoggard (vibraphone) and Luther Gray (drums) add color and pulse.
The ebb comes in the next segment, the violin opening an azure skylight, its warmth glowing in the ministrations of classical music. But the violin can also bend its strings and squeak and squawk. The essence is change, and the SpiderMonkeys embark on a journey that finds the violin and tuba marching to a percussive beat, then on to a strong melodic impulse and on to a wisp of Latin flavour, before returning to the passionate embrace of classical music.
Bynum also brings a direct simplicity to his compositions. A lullaby casts its spell, as does a turn into chamber music, where the luminescence of the cornet and the picking of the guitar strings make for an alluring combination. The sextet middle suite is a bridge between the two nonet pieces. Once more, the third is a coherent juxtaposition of the fiery permutations of free jazz, scoured by the flinty projections of Bynum and the more composed visages that pirouette and twirl or nestle in the arms of lush strings.
Bynum continues to impress with his remarkable creativity.
Personnel: Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, compositions; Jason Kao Hwang: violin; Stephanie Griffin: viola;
Pete Fitzgerald: guitar; Jessica Pavone: violin and viola (1-4,8-10); Tomas Ulrich: cello
(1-4,8-10); Joseph Daley: tuba (1-4,8-10); Luther Gray: drums (1-4,8-10); Jay Hoggard:
vibraphone (1-4,8-10); Jean Cook: violin (5-7); Okkyung Lee: cello (5-7).