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Live Reviews

David Binney Quartet at L'Astral in Montreal, May 13, 2010

By Published: May 21, 2010
Everyone shone. Weiss took the first solo of the night when, after quickly dispensing with the melody, the opening untitled tune went into a lengthy ostinato that allowed him to demonstrate the very flexibility that has placed him in increasing demand amongst artists including guitarists Rez Abbasi
Rez Abbasi
Rez Abbasi

guitar
and Joel Harrison
Joel Harrison
Joel Harrison
b.1957
guitar, electric
, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
b.1971
sax, alto
and Canadian expat bassist Chris Tarry
Chris Tarry
Chris Tarry
b.1970
bass
. Fluid, and with an unorthodox ability to make the entire kit flow seamlessly as if it were one instrument rather than a collection of many, Weiss' solos also reflected his longstanding Indian studies (his Tintal Drum set Solo (Chhandayan Production, 2005) a literal—and remarkable—transcription of a classical Indian piece for tabla to a conventional drum kit), but even more impressive than his solos was his ensemble work. It's almost coy to pick up on someone else's motif and echo it; another, however, to be so in synch as to feel it coming or pick up on it almost instantaneously, and then extend it into another space. Weiss often magically caught small figures, but there was nothing coy about how he integrated them in his own approach to time that was highly pliant, and often built into a greater whole with his band mates like a delicate house of cards.



Lober, who took a lengthy opening solo on "Simple Vibe" that was a combination of lithe muscularity and unexpected harmonic shifts, possessed a particularly percussive tone that worked exceptionally well with Weiss and the rest of the group. Like his band mates, eye contact was paramount, and an unmistakable aspect to how the group communicated, with the smallest gesture often suggesting much more. As a longtime participant of FIJM's jam session trio, it's equally clear how much he's grown from his time spent playing and studying in New York.



Sacks is another player who deserves to be heard by a larger audience. A perfect match for Weiss' temporal elasticity, he's a profoundly rhythmic player, even as his ability to displace time is surprising, even on what is considered by some to be a "rhythm section instrument." The truth is that with Binney's group, it stops being about mere accompaniment, becoming more about a collaborative paradigm that may feature one instrument at times, but moves forward with a collective will. Despite unmistakable moments of virtuosic greatness, the most compelling aspect to Sacks' playing was how much it was about the ensemble, with what he didn't play often as important as what he did. Moving from slightly off-kilter elliptical patterns to longer motifs that were as rhythmic as they were melodic, he played with rare invention and intuition.



Binney's credentials as a player have never been in question, despite his unmistakable strength as a writer, but in solo after solo he proved that sometimes the best material is that which pushes the writer to move out of his comfort zone. Whether building long, repeated patterns, demonstrating subtle strength with multiphonics or incredible cascades of notes that almost seemed to overlap despite the inherently linear nature of his alto, Binney may have left the stage often to leave the rest of his band mates to go where they wanted, but his presence was constantly felt...and a constant reminder of just how important he is, whether or not his name ever reaches the level of household status.



A relatively short encore provided the only cover of the evening—Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
's relatively obscure "Toy Tune," recorded on Aliso, an anomaly in Binney's discography, containing, as it does, more material by others than original compositions. It was a great way to close off the set by acknowledging how the iconic spirit of artists like Shorter continues to loom large, even with artists whose focus is on their own music. Based on the near-capacity crowd's enthusiastic response —and for some this was a first encounter, but clearly won't be the last—there's no small likelihood that Binney could well be considered in the same category in the years ahead.



Photo Credit

All Photos: John Kelman



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