Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Anna Webber's Simple Trio with Matt Mitchell & John Holl...


Anna Webber's Simple Trio with Matt Mitchell & John Hollenbeck: Binary


Sign in to view read count
Anna Webber's Simple Trio with Matt Mitchell & John Hollenbeck: Binary
If there were a prize for avoiding the obvious, then Brooklyn-based Canadian saxophonist and flautist Anna Webber would be a prime contender. In an effort to take the road less travelled, Webber has used internet-sourced inspiration, including a random binary digit generator, a website that turns words into drumbeats, and even her own IP address, to develop the 11 compositions on Binary, the sophomore outing from her Simple Trio.

In a line up unchanged since their eponymous debut Webber, flanked by Claudia Quintet drummer John Hollenbeck and in demand pianist Matt Mitchell, creates a bewildering tapestry of staggered metrical layers which are not quite unisons but nor totally out of phase. When she isn't holding down rhythmic pulses as part of the structural fabric, Webber's lines veer between throaty falsetto wailing and swirling legato. But whatever she does fully exploits the weird tonalities she unleashes from her instruments.

Perhaps because both Mitchell and Hollenbeck are accomplished bandleaders in their own rights, they execute Webber's intricate charts in a way which makes them seem natural and their wayward logic seem inevitable. Mitchell excels whether in the reflective passages, like that towards the end of the stop start "Impulse Purchase" or in full blooded two handed grooves, like that in "Underhelmed," which bring Craig Taborn to mind. For his part Hollenbeck demonstrates effortless prowess, embellishing his on the dime cadences with inventive use of pitch and texture.

Webber's witty titles give an indication of the smarts in play. Half the numbers comprises a series of short "Rectangles" scattered through the program, bursting with jagged lurches and subtly modulating patterns. Webber erects a latticework of repeating beats which remain unpredictable because of the sudden suspensions and flourishes.

After an unrelenting opening sequence, the first change of pace comes with "Rectangles 1b" with its tinkling chimes, clattery thumps and false fingered tenor bleating. Thereafter "Tug O' War" evokes Anthony Braxton with the leader's flute zipping between registers and alternating butterfly like glides and sharp angular turns, while the title number builds to a triumphant but skewed ballad styling, after Mitchell's Satie-esque intro.

To sum up in digital terms: 1+1+1=5. Simple.

Track Listing

Rectangles 2; Impulse Purchase; Rectangles 3a; Rectangles 1b; Underhelmed; Tug O' War; Rectangles 3b; Binary; Meme; Disintegratiate; Rectangles 3c; Rectangles 1a.


Anna Webber
composer / conductor

Anna Webber: tenor saxophone, flute; Matt Mitchell: piano; John Hollenbeck: drums.

Album information

Title: Binary | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Skirl Records

< Previous



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Ellie Lee
Red Planet
Marco Colonna / Edoardo Marraffa / Fabrizio Spera...
The Salerno Concert
Bob Mover / Walter Davis Jr.


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.