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Alto saxophonist and producer David Binney has become a ubiquitous presence in jazz in the last 20 years fronting his own bands while appearing with Donny McCaslin, Uri Caine, Joel Harrison, Edward Simon and Bobby Previte. He might be considered the logical next step in jazz saxophone after Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker (Sonny Rollins remains in an orbit by himself), never mind that he is not a tenorist. Binney has been sharpening his direction over his last two recordings (Aliso (Criss-Cross, 2010) and Third Occasion (Mythology Records, 2009)) on his way to Graylen Epicenter which achieves a certain anxious stateliness that is quite cutting edge.
The title track, "Graylen Epicenter," is the lengthiest piece on the one- hour-plus recording. It possesses many moods and movements, the most provocative being Wayne Krantz's funky R&B guitar solo early on in the piece. The introduction is a modal march over which Binney, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire spin their discursive silk. Krantz spins, slaps and snaps his way through James Brown by way of Jaco Pastorius, sounding at once like an electric bass and an electric guitar. His playing is very melodic and soulful. A head break incorporates the vocalization of uber-siren Gretchen Parlato and Binney seconding the horns. Binney takes a long solo with a noisy rhythm section, making what has become his brand of jazz: assertive, overt, confident. All of these are reasons why Binney is at the center of jazz.
Personnel: David Binney: alto and soprano saxophones, vocal; Gretchen Parlato: vocal;
Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Craig
Taborn: piano; Wayne Krantz: guitar; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Brian Blade:
drums; Kenny Wollesen: percussion, vibes; Rogerio Boccato: percussion.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.