After making fusion fun again with Lost Tribe, alto saxophonist David Binney continues to expand his compositional language, organically infusing jazz with notions of rock and funk without sounding kitschy or forced. On his latest effort, Welcome to Life, the nine original compositions are well attended by the assembled like-minded musicians: tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, keyboardist Craig Taborn, guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade. Their adept performances of Binney’s rhythmically and melodically quirky pieces flow smoothly, providing an adventurous listen.
“Soldifolier” gets things started with a syncopated head nicely accented by Blade’s confident drumming, a platform for the unison saxophone lines and Taborn’s clever piano solo. His rhythmic piano phrase sets up the title track, punctuated by Rogers’ guitar, which makes effective use of dynamics and quoting snippets of the written music for extrapolation. The ambitious “Frez” has an extended form with several parts—the first is another offbeat feel, with Rogers throwing some nice licks, and in the second, the rhythm section locks into a tight, straight ahead rock feel with the horns soaring above. Taborn and Blade spice up the extended solos of Potter and Binney, who both take advantage of the disparate parts.
“Sintra” is another great vehicle for the rhythm section, while the out-chorus finds the horn players dancing around and completing each other’s lines, as Blade spurs them along. Rogers’ acoustic guitar introduces the subtle “Enchantress,” which also boasts a rare, but welcome, solo from Colley. The quick pace of “Ici” breaks down to an edgy free section, the jaggedness serving as an antidote to the more polished and tightly wound compositions dominating, that announces Binney as a forward-thinking composer, with the chops and supporting cast, to back it up.