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Album Review

David Bindman/Stefan Bauer/Michael Sarin: Relative Motion


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Reed player and composer David Bindman is most recognized for his decades in Royal Hartigan's Blood Drum Spirit group. Bindman has led a namesake sextet and ensemble and was a member of the Brooklyn Saxophone Quartet along with the late Fred Ho. The Relative Motion trio is a new collaboration with Stefan Bauer on marimba, and Michael Sarin on drums. The Brooklyn-based group had been collaborating when the pandemic struck and self-produced these original compositions from 2020 sessions.

Sarin, a California native, has supported top names in jazz including Denman Maroney, Mario Pavone, Mark Dresser, Marty Ehrlich, Myra Melford, and Simon Nabatov. Upon relocating to New York, he frequently worked with Thomas Chapin and Dave Douglas. German vibraphonist Bauer has worked extensively with European artists including Parisian bassist Francois Moutin.

The music on Relative Motion reflects Bindman's unique style; the fluidity of dance, intricate melodies, and unpredictability. As the album opens Bauer's vibes tumble through the fluctuating sax and drums as if deciding whether to latch on to "missile or microbe" in the piece that bears that title. The title track is a conundrum; low key but freewheeling, its density manages to hover at a higher level. Much of the early going of the ten-plus minute "Time Frames" is given over to Bauer as he creates a fascinating fusion soundscape. Sarin and Bindman (on flute) have engaging solo time in the second half. "Winter Variations" is the most energetic piece on Relative Motion. Spacious and multifaceted, Bindman's sax is the perfect foil for the austere vibes.

By design, Bindman's work doesn't nicely fit in a particular jazz category. Flowing and open, Relative Motion features compelling improvisations throughout, but there is subtlety in all its elements. The trio communicates in a higher language and with, for a relatively new group, the symmetry of long-standing associations. This is an album that wears well over repeated listening.

Track Listing

Missile or Microbe; Relative Motion; Now and Always Now; Winter Variations; Lights, Receding; Time Frames; Priere.

Album information

Title: Relative Motion | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Self Produced

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