Taylor Ho Bynum: Enter the Plus Tet

Karl Ackermann By

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Taylor Ho Bynum: Enter the Plus Tet
Cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum has proven to be a visionary composer, striking the difficult balance between free improvised and arranged music. While accomplished in any group setting, he has shown a particular gift for extended works in larger group situations as in two recent Firehouse 12 Records releases, his sextet Apparent Distance (2011) and sextet and 7-tet on the impressive box set Navigation (The Complete Firehouse 12 Recordings) (2012). On Bynum's new release Enter the Plus Tet he incorporates some high-quality personnel additions to his core sextet, creating a bigger and more diverse sound.

Saxophonists Jim Hobbs, Matt Bauder, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Ken Filiano, drummer Tomas Fujiwara and Bill Lowe on tuba and trombone were all participants in the afore mentioned sextet/7-tet recordings. Among those joining them are trumpeters Stephanie Richards (Asphalt Orchestra) and the now ubiquitous Nate Wooley, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and Jason Kao Hwang on violin. The fifteen-deep ensemble —particularly due to the additional strings—has a full orchestral feel when Bynum calls for that outcome.

Approximately half of Enter the Plus Tet is consumed by the opening "Sleeping Giant," a composition that was inspired by Bynum's hiking experiences on the trail near his New Haven residence. A bit of "getting there is half the fun" enters his thinking as the ensemble briefly visits landmarks on a circuitous journey, quickly moving on to parts unknown. The title of the piece, however, is tribute to Prince, whose legacy and untimely death had a strong impact on Bynum. Both Wooley and Richards have featured improvisations along with Laubrock, Hwang and trombonist Steve Swell.

"Three (for Me We & Them)" is dedicated to the jazz orchestras inspired by the very different styles of Duke Ellington and Sun Ra. The piece was written by Bynum for James Jabbo Ware's orchestra from which the name of the tune was taken. The solos on the personal closing piece, "That Which Only...Never Before," fall mostly to the core group members Bynum, Hobbs but include Tomeka Reid on cello. The AACM and the Chicago Jazz Festival are among the organization that have commissioned Reid who leads her own quartet as well.

With Enter the Plus Tet Bynum paints a lucid, but unpredictable picture to elucidate his vision for these works. The addition of Wooley and Swell—with their idiosyncratic styles—is a perfect fit and Stephanie Richards is a name that will be better known in the near future. The Plus Tet recently shared billing with Wadada Leo Smith at the Festival of New Trumpet Music at Manhattan's New School.

Track Listing

Sleeping Giant; Three (for Me We & Them); That Which Only…Never Before.


Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, conductor; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Stephanie Richards: trumpet; Vincent Chancey: French horn; Steve Swell: trombone; Bill Lowe: bass trombone, tuba; Jim Hobbs: saxophone; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophone; Matt Bauder: saxophone; Jason Kao Hwang: violin; Tomeka Reid: cello; Jay Hoggard: vibraphone; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Ken Filiano: bass; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.

Album information

Title: Enter the Plus Tet | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records

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