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

Karl Ackermann By

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Canadian native, now a Brooklyn resident, Anna Webber, has a broad, international music education having studied at McGill University in Montreal, Manhattan School of Music and the Jazz Institute of Berlin. In the latter two cases she has received Master's degrees to accompany the substantial number of grants and awards that speak to her compositional ability. She has recorded three previous albums as a leader and with Binary, the saxophonist/flautist/composer returns with her "Simple Trio" of pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer John Hollenbeck.

Mitchell is one of a handful of omnipresent downtown players/composers, working with Tim Berne, Jon Irabagon, Ches Smith, Chris Speed, Tyshawn Sorey and a host of other notable artists. He is a core member of Snakeoil, the Dave Douglas Quintet, John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble, Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls, Dan Weiss Large Ensemble, Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse, and John Zorn's Bagatelles to name just a few of his regular associations.

Hollenbeck is a shape-shifting virtuoso who is best known for his long-running Claudia Quintet but he is equally at home in the diverse settings of his namesake Large Ensemble or working with the interpretations of the poet Kenneth Patchen. The recipient of a 2010 grant, Hollenbeck worked with producer Daniel Yvinec and the Orchestre National de Jazz of France to develop the double-disc Shut Up and Dance (Bee Jazz, 2010). A borderless new music composer, Hollenbeck continues to be a pioneer in creative music.

Like any binary system, Webber's Binary has two sections that often intersect. The compositional approach is not entirely a new one for Webber, though here she has specific influences drawn from the internet. One can hear the genesis of Binary dating back to Webber's 2010 self-produced The Third Floor, but her leader debut is laced with more lyrical compositions in comparison to Binary. The opening "Rectangles 2" has the clear distinction of implied mathematical linguistics. The subsequent "Impulse Purchase" however, is a wide open, fourteen-plus minute exploration that imparts a number of brief melodic interludes but doesn't settle down to any one theme.

Four additional iterations of "Rectangles..." are scattered throughout the program, each inspired by "WebDriver Torso" a YouTube test channel of more than one-hundred thousand, short, cryptic videos that have become something of a mysterious urban legend. The long title track opens with Mitchell's melancholy solo before Hollenbeck skillfully interweaves Webber's off-kilter melody with the piano. The trio executes tradeoffs in both affecting and abstract exchanges of ideas on this very unique collection of sonorities and melodies. Webber is certainly interested in getting the conceptual details right, but not at the expense of some very creative music on Binary.

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: saxophone, flute, composer; Matt Mitchell: piano; John Hollenbeck: drums.

Album information

Title: Binary | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Skirl Records


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