David Buchbinder occupies a curious place among modern-day jazz composers. A fine trumpeter with firm roots in jazz, he has used the idiom to explore an eclectic mix of musical styles. The circus tradition, with its emphasis on borrowing from many world cultures, is a natural forum for such experimentation.
The selections on Shurum Burum Jazz Circus depict disparate musical accents vying with one another for position in off-center arrangements that have many surprises. The ensemble, complete with strings and woodwinds, has a dense and sometimes confrontational sound. The composer's style is borne of a sharp musical tongue and an ear for the exotic.
Tracks like "Invectus" and "Samarkand" best convey that harvesting of world musics with shades of klezmer and gypsy styles punctuated by the ensemble's playful overstatement. On the latter piece, soprano saxophonist Perter Lutek delivers a fierce, over-the-top solo that is one of the highlights of the album.
Guitarist Levon Ichkhanian gets a brief spotlight on the irascible and persistent "King Rat" and drummer Barry Romberg is excellent throughout, providing just enough push and excitement through sudden tempo shifts and solid support of the demanding arrangements. "Portrait of Cagney" distills elements of Raymond Scott with a hefty dash of the avant-garde.
Without actually witnessing the Shurum Burum Jazz Circus, the staged and choreographed multimedia performance for which this music was assembled, one still gets a good feel for the festive and devilishly skewed atmosphere. The music is disruptive, unpredictable, and played with precision and galling pluck by a fine group of musicians. Definitely one of Buchbinder's most ambitious undertakings and one of the most intriguing recent jazz releases I've heard.
Personnel: Parmela Attariwala: violin; David Buchbinder: trumpet; Rob Clutton: bass; Pol Cousee:
soprano, alto & tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, flute; Stephen Donald: trombone; Greg de
Denus: piano; Levon Ichkhanian: guitar; Bridget Lamarche-Brown: viola; Peter Lutek: soprano,
tenor & baritone saxophone, clarinet; Roberto Occhipinti: bass (2,7); Carina Reeves: cello;
Barry Romberg: drums; Perry White: soprano & tenor saxophone.