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David Binney -][- GRAYLEN EPICENTER (MP3) – [Mythology Records, 2011] – MUSIC REVIEW

It was only a few years ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to an album titled “FREE TO DREAM,” (1999) by this exceptional composer and saxophonist from Miami (via Southern California) named David Binney. Since then, I’ve regrettably fallen off course and haven’t seriously pursued the opportunity to become more familiar with the music of this amazing artist with any frequency … that’s until I finally come to my senses and decided to dive head first into his phenomenal new project “GRAYLEN EPICENTER.”

At first glance, while listening I skimmed through the superb line-up summoned by Binney to record this outstanding album I knew immediately that I was in for an impeccable journey! As I embrace this new frontier I dare not deny myself a chance to embellish what might very well be one of the top jazz recordings of 2011?

“All of Time” the opener takes the art of innovation into a new dimension on this extensive palette of groundbreaking music. From the onset, as the compositional architect of this project Binney shapes this gem by flexing his improvisational skills as an inexhaustible player by hurling inferno of abstract notes and rigorous tones from the core to eventually become envelope sonically by the lively interplay of this persistent ensemble features the gifted Gretchen Parlato vocally.

Melodically, the title “GRAYLEN EPICENTER” swells with a symphony of attractive nuances in order to lure you into the fabric of the song. Once the piece opens, it unleashes echoes of transcending sounds through its broadening body to allow the players to verbally state their case artistically with definition and style.

At this stage, it’s time to move over and make room for “Equality at Low Levels.” This enthralling jewel is form by a sequence of layered patterns, colors and rhythms which employs the spirited drumming skills provided by Brain Blade. Equally, the song is steeped with fluid substance that gradually assembles to unify the voices of tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, Binney and pianist Craig Taborn who inevitably swap solos flawlessly.

“Everglow” eases in at the fourth spot and marches in cadence sonically to gradually reflect the fluttered and off-centered tonality which instinctively captures another side of Binney’s compositional identity. In return, this movement allocates space for the ensemble to intervene and creatively draw them into a desirable harmonic atmosphere.

At first, when I saw the title “Terrorist and Movie Stars” I thought wow this cat has a unique sense of humor. Without delay, bassist Eivind Opsvik leads the ensemble down a suspended highway beyond the walls and boundaries most novices aren’t accustom to. Meanwhile, virtuosos Binney and company vigorous interplay radiates through the veil to implement a wealth of tireless improvised chops without hesitation.

Vocalist Gretchen Parlato returns to lend her understated yet beautiful voice to “Home.” She walks subtly through widening canal of melodic and exotic textures that lyrically attached to your demanding ears. In the meantime, she intuitively calls saxophonist Chris Potter to add his touch to this intimate journey. Parlato’s adventurous and wordless vocals flow with grace while adjacent to the power of Potter’s evocative horn will melt your heart.

Sometimes we inconspicuously remove ourselves from where the music intends for us to be. Of course, this task is particularly complicated with improvise music because once you allow yourself to follow the lead you’ll be consumed by the evolving musicality. As in this case, there’s “Any Years Costume” this jewel will draw you into a palette of what jazz sounds like within the towering pillars of strength that surrounds the “GRAYLEN EPICENTER.” Binney sculpts these unparalleled patterns, tones and inventive shapes bulge into a futuristic soundscape of “Waking to Waves.”

This massive and impressive excursion is seriously a convincing undertaking by composer and saxophonist David Binney. Can he do it again, without a doubt! “GRAYLEN EPICENTER” is powerful, tasty and transforming. These amazing compositions coupled with his remarkable playing are mind-boggling. His venomous two-punch combination might not match the voices of the forefathers in jazz for season listeners, but as I hear it his music transcends the traditions of mainstream jazz ideology simply because he scored, arranged, and played “original” progressive jazz for the hungry ears of a new breed of jazz aficionados.


-))- David Binney – (alto & soprano saxophones, vocals)
-))- Gretchen Parlato – (vocal)
-))- Ambrose Akinmusire – (trumpet)
-))- Chris Potter – (tenor saxophone)
-))- Wayne Krantz – (guitars)
-))- Craig Taborn – (piano)
-))- Eivind Opsvik – (bass)
-))- Brian Blade – (drums tracks 1-4, 6, 8, 9 & 10)
-))- Dan Weiss – (drums tracks 1, 5, 6, 9 & 10)
-))- Kenny Wollesen – (percussion, vibes)
-))- Rogerio Boccato – (percussion)
-))- Nina Geiger – (vocal harmony on 10)


– 1) All of Time
– 2) Graylen Epicenter
– 3) Equality at Low Levels
– 4) Everglow
– 5) From this Far
– 6) Terrorists and Movie Stars
– 7) Same Stare, Different Thought
– 8) Home
– 9) Any Years Costume
– 10) Waking to Waves

All Compositions by DAVID BINNEY, (Beenknee Music Sesac 2011)

Check out Binney’s enormous discography!