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David Binney: Airplanes, Cities, Moods and Vibes

By Published: September 4, 2006
AAJ: This is, for you, a pretty short album—even with the bonus track that comes with the download. And I like that. But it's material that wouldn't work if it wasn't perfectly sequenced—some of the stuff wouldn't make sense if it wasn't right where it is on the record. Did you think about the sequencing much?

DB: Oh, yeah. That's always a big part of all my records. Records can be completely different if they're sequenced differently. I know from going over so many albums and putting sequences together in the computer and listening to them. They can be just so drastically different, even with the same material. So I've thought about it a lot, actually.

And as for it being short—see, I am actually a huge fan of short records, contrary to what you might think when you see so many of my records. What usually happens is that I have a lot of stuff that I really love, and I don't want to take it off the record. There's stuff that I just can't imagine not putting on the record. So a lot of my records become long because I really like what happened, which I guess is a good thing. But my initial ideas of most of the records are to make them short. Also, a lot of times I've had bigger ensembles, and when they're records with solos, and everyone's soloing, you can't help but have a long record.

AAJ: Yes, you get a lot of ten-minute tunes.

DB: Exactly. So this is a smaller ensemble, and there aren't so many set solos, and the record's shorter. And I like that. My very first record ever, this record called Point Game (Owl Records, 1991), was 39 minutes long. I liked it that length; it's what I grew up with, listening to LPs. I wouldn't release a record that's 77 minutes long unless I felt like it warranted that and was a good album. Like with South and some of those longer records, I don't feel when I listen to them that they're 77 minutes long. They don't feel that long to me, which is a key, because there are some records that I own that are that long, and they feel that long to me. You don't want that.

AAJ: Well, you never find out how the last couple of songs even go.

DB: Yeah [laughing], right. You never hear them. So I am a fan of short albums, ultimately. But even this new one that's coming out on Criss Cross ended up being long, I don't know how long—74 minutes, something like that—because it's a real blowing record and we really stretched out and just let it go. And I didn't want to cut some stuff; there's a lot of good stuff. Also, record labels—not necessarily my own, but certain record labels—want a certain amount of material. For those ACT records, if I were to have made short records, they would have requested more material. They did request more on, I think, Balance. I had had the idea of making a shorter record, and I made the record and presented it to them, and they actually said, "It's too short. We need it to be longer; there's not enough material. I had tons of material, so it's not like I didn't have it, and it's material I was proud of. I was just trying to make a shorter record with that album. So I ended up making that record longer by doing some edits with some of the free playing we did.

Actually, I have a whole other hour of free playing I did from the Balance sessions, and I made a record out of it in my apartment by myself where I actually played some guitar over parts, sang over parts, looped things. It's all using the improvisation, but things within that are looped. At some point, I'd like to release it on my site. It's just that I've had a steady stream of CDs coming out, and I don't want to compete with that. But I've have this record done for three or four years of free improvisation we did from the Balance material that I used and made into this record that I think is very cool. It's pretty unique; in a way, I was thinking of [John Coltrane's] Ascension (Impulse!, 1965) or something like that, where they just improvised, but putting it together in a modern way where, again, you take some of the themes that were stated in the improvisation and magnify them and build on them, orchestrate them. And that's what I did on this thing, and I think I'll put that out within the next year on my website.

AAJ: You'll have to call it Out of Balance. I suppose that already occurred to you.

DB: Yeah [laughing]. It didn't occur to me, but I think Queva [Lutz], the owner of the 55 Bar, called one of our nights there "Out of Balance, because the group's called Balance, and some of the guys couldn't make it. But I did that on that record Balance because people wanted more material. And I'm glad I did, because I liked what happened, but that's another reason why some of those records are long—labels don't necessarily want short records.

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