Taylor Ho Bynum & Tomas Fujiwara: True Events (2007)

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Taylor Ho Bynum & Tomas Fujiwara: True Events
The duet is an idea idiom: the scaffolding of improvisation laid bare, like wires gutted from a conduit. Here, musical dialogue becomes something about communicating, or miscommunicating, through paper cups. It's far less obvious that an improviser is making no sense, or has no sense, and/or no ideas, than when musicians are speaking ear to ear.

True Events hazards—if "hazard could describe music so careful—scrutiny, packed, coiled, and double-coiled with ideas. A less generous judgment might call this a "well-studied album, and it certainly does not shock of the new so much as it does the nu—or the "now, involved as much of it is with the historical reduction that seems to consume the jazz milieu these days. At the same time, Bynum and Fujiwara are so well- equipped a pair of intellects that merely hearing them communicate so directly is enough to ignore the fact that little, if anything, truly innovative has been said.

Perhaps a better appellation would be "scholarly —as in well-grounded. Bynum has a warm, malleable tone, a talent for coaxing out the personality of the cornet that few players of his generation seem to possess; it is colored in elements of Don Cherry and Bobby Bradford—with, in pedals and splatter-effects, a few remarkable traces of Bill Dixon—and it lapses here and there into the sort of insouciant effrontery of those earlier masters.

Bynum has an adroit, sensitive partner in Fujiwara—yet another tremendous drummer out of Boston—and the conversational, strongly melodic character of this combination sides recalls any number of definitive brass-percussion duets. What separates a session like this and, for example, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell's Mu (BYG/Actuel, 1969), is that those classic recordings had the feel of tightrope walks; True Events is a more like a jog—facile and quick, with little derring-do.

In other words, it sometimes seems that Bynum and Fujiwara are taking it a little too easy on themselves—dancing on the line rather than breaking it, which they seem amply capable of—but one never feels a lack of intelligence or grace. Hearing Bynum and Fujiwara impose and superimpose rhythms on the time is great fun, and, especially in quieter spots, there's a potent lyricism, a subtle beauty that only the finest partners—I'm reminded of Louis Moholo-Moholo and Evan Parker—can conjure. These two players have no problem exposing their intricate, voluminous ideas, though I wish they would spill their guts a little more.

Track Listing: Wisdom; The Upset; Five Miniatures [Ficciones]; Ship; The Leaning Reflection; Akickitaround; Biloxi/Ikuru; The Emperor of Ice Cream; Wisdom [Reprise].

Personnel: Tomas Fujiwara: drums; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet.

Record Label: 482 Music

Style: Modern Jazz


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