For a young musician, Taylor Ho Bynum has had an impressive career. He's appeared on as many albums as he is years oldthat being thirtyand has worked with Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon, and Anthony Davis. He studied under and toured with Anthony Braxton, and the pair released a strong recording, Duets (Wesleyan) 2002. He's also performed in some strong ensembles of next-generation players, including the Fully Celebrated Orchestra and a trio with Jeff Song and Curt Newton.
Other Stories is Bynum's first release as a leader and composer, and it's impressive in its ambition. The 56-minute disc is divided into three suites, each distinctive in style and approach. The first and third, "Supo Eno and "SpiderMonkey Stories, feature a string quartet (Jason Kao Hwang, Jessica Pavone, Stephanie Griffin, and Thomas Ulrich) augmented by Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daly (tuba), Luther Gray (drums), and Jay Hoggard (vibraphone). "Supo Eno tends toward dense string arrangements and "Stories is more playful. Sandwiched between the two is the brief "The First Three Lives of Stuart Hornsley, three sections totaling six minutes with Hwang, Griffin, and Fitzpatrick joined by cellist Okkyung Lee and violinist Jean Cook.
Overall, Bynum gives his musicians plenty of material to work with, and if the themes are at times quaint, the soloists throughout are strong (especially Daly and Fitzpatrick). However, he gives the listener too much to work with. The melodies and mood swings come together like a Nino Rota best-oflots of suggested emotion, but without the storylines to support them.
Supo Eno: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; The First Three Lives of Stuart
Hornsley: Stuart's Theme; Small Mistakes; Together; SpiderMonkey Stories: Dakinis' Dance;
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, compositions; Jason Kao Hwang: violin; Stephanie Griffin: viola;
Pete Fitzgerald: guitar; Jessica Pavone: violin and viola (1-4,8-10); Tomas Ulrich: cello
(1-4,8-10); Joseph Daley: tuba (1-4,8-10); Luther Gray: drums (1-4,8-10); Jay Hoggard:
vibraphone (1-4,8-10); Jean Cook: violin (5-7); Okkyung Lee: cello (5-7).