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Drummer Aaron Binder’s good fortune must be ascribed in part to his ability to draw into his orbit musicians of the caliber of trumpeter D’Earth, saxophonist Decker, bassist Fitzsimmons and especially pianist O’Brien, a seasoned veteran and leader in his own right who has a large hand (two, actually) in ensuring the success of Binder’s second album (the first, This Side of Jazz, was recorded in 1997 with the same personnel except for O’Brien). In appraising that earlier endeavor, we wrote that it was “a well–played concert by earnest young men who are investing heart and soul in the music,” and the description applies here as well, although this is a studio session with the added benefit of O’Brien’s considerable pianistic artistry. Binder wrote two numbers on that earlier album, four on this one, and really hits his stride with “Ruffians,” a hard–boppin’ cooker that reminds one of the legendary Clifford Brown / Max Roach Quintet from the mid–’50s, and his explosive Jazz Messengers–style communiqué, “Firecracker.” They are preceded by Binder’s bluesy “Black and White Sound” and ballad “Wasted Breath” and followed by D’Earth’s punchy “Everyday Tune” and the seldom–played but nonetheless charming Arthur Schwartz / Leo Robin composition, “A Gal in Calico” (a showcase for O’Brien’s tastefully swinging piano). While D’Earth and Decker are relatively unknown one shouldn’t hold that against them, as each is a talented bop–centered improviser with plenty of interesting phrases in his notebook. D’Earth, who teaches at the University of Virginia, derives his inspiration from the Freddie Hubbard / Lee Morgan / Donald Byrd school of free–spirited capering, Decker from Gene Ammons / Dexter Gordon / George Coleman. Binder’s influences are more difficult to ascertain, but Art Blakey is surely one of them (as he is most of today’s bop–style drummers) and Max Roach also comes to mind, especially on “Ruffians,” on which Decker evokes memories of Brown / Roach’s stalwart tenor, the late Harold Land (who was replaced in the group by another fairly well–known reedman, Sonny Rollins). Binder’s earlier recording was quite enjoyable; this one is even more so, thanks to a number of impressive charts, O’Brien’s forceful presence and emphatic blowing by everyone else. Fortune does indeed seem to be smiling on Aaron Binder.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.