433

Taylor Ho Bynum / Spider Monkey Strings: Madeleine Dreams

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
That this is cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum's fourth leadership date so far this year speaks volumes about his growing stature as a bandleader, writer and virtuoso instrumentalist. Justly known as one of celebrated composer/saxophonist Anthony Braxton's foremost interpreters over the last decade, Bynum's star now shines even more brightly in the creative music firmament, thanks to these multiple projects, and parts in Jason Kao Hwang's Edge, the Convergence Quartet and the orchestras of Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor.

For the second outing of his improvising chamber ensemble Spider Monkey Strings, Bynum further tweaks the already oddball line-up by adding Kyoko Kitamura's voice to the group's four strings, tuba and drums. It's a significant change and a necessary one, given that the centerpiece of the disc is the 27-minute suite "Madeleine Dreams," based on extracts from the 2004 National Book Award finalist novel Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt, 2004), by his sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum.

Bynum's richly detailed settings for his sister's words take on some of the dreamlike aspects of the source material, with his winningly oblique arrangements mirroring the opacity of the text. Even at their most formal, in counterpoint to the opening and closing recitations of "hush," the chamber correctness is subverted by Pete Fitzpatrick's subtle guitar electronics. Elsewhere, as in "objects lost on journeys"—the longest section of the suite—the impressionistic ensemble envelopes Kitamura's slinky vocal in a swirling mass of intertwining lines, parting briefly for Bynum's cornet to cavort over skittering guitar, then later a muted dialogue for pizzicato strings and tuba. Each repeated listen uncovers correspondingly more depth to the artistry of this heartfelt and challenging project.

Rounding out the final 18 minutes of the program, by way of contrast, are more direct renditions of pieces by three of Bynum's musical heroes. Ornette Coleman's "What Reason Could I Give," from his under-rated Science Fiction (Columbia, 1972), hews close to the original, with Kitamura following the template set by Indian vocalist Asha Puthli's delivery of Coleman's lyrics. But it is given a twist with a martial drum opening in which Luther Gray channels the great Ed Blackwell, and the ensuing duet for Bynum's puckish cornet and Joseph Daley's harrumphing tuba, which survives the introduction of Coleman's theme and thrives throughout.

Duke Ellington's "The Mooche" and Sun Ra's "Angels and Demons At Play" are given looser treatments, with tuba and vocal exhalations giving way to a joyous bounce and rounds of playful soloing in the former, while the latter moves from cinematic guitar effects to a barreling blown bass vamp, wordless scatting and percolating string lines, for an upbeat ending to an exuberant yet weighty release.


Track Listing: hush; le petomane; lesson; metamorphosis; objects lost on journeys; hush (reprise); What Reason Could I Give; The Mooche; Angels and Demons at Play.

Personnel: Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn; Kyoko Kitamura: voice; Jason Kao Hwang: violin; Jessica Pavone: viola; Tomas Ulrich: cello; Pete Fitzpatrick: guitar; Joseph Daley: tuba; Luther Gray: drums.

Title: Madeleine Dreams | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Lost at Last" CD/LP/Track Review Lost at Last
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Of Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Of Tides
by John Eyles
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.