SCROLL DOWN FOR LAN XANG AND EDWARD SIMON REVIEWS
David Binney: Free To Dream (CD, 66:55); Mythology Records MR 10983, 1998 Mythology Records 311 West 72nd Street New York, NY 10023, USA Phone: 212 362-3510 Orders: 1-888-684-2968 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: http://www.mythologyrecords.com Binney is known to many as the sax genius of Lost Tribe and his skill is no less evident herein -- in Binney's chosen dreamworld, a musical vibe, a flow, where he is free. Running his own record label, going the freshly popular independent route, affords total control and thus creativity and style unbounded by the prickly hedges of commercialism's maze. Believe me, this spirit works well to my ears. Binney's eleven compositions echo a fuller, matured Lost Tribe feel in places, "Goddess", "Jalama", and "Oddman" for example, without the biting egde of electric guitar. The Tribe's Adam Rogers does classical guitar. Instead of crunch there is wonderfully lush and driving piano by Edward Simon. Also filling out the sound is tenor sax by Donny McCaslin, Scott Colley on bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums -- this trio being Binney's bandmates in Lan Xang. "Jalama" recalls the fine sound of ECM's Gallery and their self- titled release. "Oddman" has Binney doing that frenetically, synco-sweet Steve Coleman blow. Still, it is all Binney and not in any way unoriginal. This is simply great jazz -- a new feel yet built on firm standards. There is much to wallow in, relax to, happening here -- but an easygoing undercurrent of introspective tension holds interest. No lounge jazz, dentist office stuff to be had here. On "The Mondello Line" a haunting reed solo intros, calling the lonely Muse of another world and in reply -- bass, drums, acoustic guitar, and more sax reply -- wonderfully augmenting, blending and lending resolution. Wonderful. Title track, "Free To Dream" is a rhythmically warm, night breeze along the coast of some uncharted Caribbean isle. Swaying, swooning, grooving, the dance unfolds, neath silhouette of palm tree and ancient pier. "I Lie Waiting" is a surreal prelude opening the way for the strangely avant garde realms of "Sea of Allurement". I would say only this last track briefly strays away from the prior cohesiveness of this release. It is experimentation in sound-splashed minimalism and progressive. It takes nearly 5:30 to establish any melodic structure in this interesting 9:09 piece. High recommendations for this uniquely sax-driven jazz. ~ John W. Patterson Other musicians guesting: Kenny Wollesen - Percussion Daniel Sadownick - Percussion Alex Sipiagin - Flugelhorn, Trumpet Clark Gayton - Trombone Jamie Baum - Flutes Doug Yates - Bass Clarinet
Lan Xang: self-titled (CD, 58:09); Mythology Records (DBINN1), 1997 Mythology Records 311 West 72nd Street New York, NY 10023, USA Phone: 212 362-3510 Orders: 1-888-684-2968 E-mail: email@example.com Cyberhome: http://www.mythologyrecords.com This is the "outer territory" of highly inventive yet accessible jazz. Lan Xang is a whirling, swirling, groovin', eclectically-charged blend of alto/tenor/soprano saxes, wood flute, acoustic bass, bells, Tunisian horn, percussion and drums. Dave Binney and Donny McCaslin cover reeds predominately. Scott Colley is bass and Jeff Hirshfield is drums and percussion. Compositions are many times -- slickly relaxed. Hear Binney's "Vevasis" that shows up again on Binney's third Lost Tribe release -- Many Lifetimes. Some pieces are intro'ed as strained and jaggedly extruded oddities -- resolving themselves into walls of smooth, subdued color -- melancholy strolls. Fleet- footed unisons are tight little fusillades coming and going as pieces evolve. Take notice of this on "Rob Petry" and witness excellent bass soloing. Conversational reed solos overlay this McCaslin piece. On the hip cool boppin' "2nd Line Sally" I was tempted get up from the keyboard and boogie down and shake some boo-tay. This is fun stuff. "Tango, Waltz, & Variations on . . ." wins the odd-metered award hands down -- a head-boppin' tune but I bet ya can't dance to it. Not forgetting the jazz standards vibe Lan Xang offers Binney's "A Hundred Kings" that will make many older jazz lovers nod heads of admiration. It still retains that syncopated groove Binney and McCaslin both throw down so well. Find more great bass and drumming here for sure. Those of you looking for that jagged-edged thing with sleek delivery recalling Lost Tribe will find it on McCaslin's "Grunge Factor". Oops, no electric guitars, just killer Colley bass and fired up Hirshfield drums. I could dig this scene a lot more. Did I mention the tortured sax work aflame with reed-screech and hallowed barkings? Oh man, they smoke! As an interesting thread running all through this release are vignettes Xang 1 - Xang 5 and an outro reprise of Xang 1. They are each curious little sketches running from :37 to 2:00 long. Experience this debut Lan Xang release for a breath of fresh jazz, cutting edge, and adventurous music. ~ John W. Patterson
Edward Simon: La Bikina (CD, 67:30); Mythology Records MR 10982, 1998 Mythology Records 311 West 72nd Street New York, NY 10023, USA Phone: 212 362-3510 Orders: 1-888-684-2968 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: http://www.mythologyrecords.com Lovers of jazz piano, Latin-flavored music, and the tender elegance and power of Keith Jarrett's playing will find all this and more in Edward Simon's La Bikina. Simon hails from Venezuela and also brings some Cuban flavor along in his lively yet lilting style. Smell the salsa cooking, hear the exotic percussives, toe-tap that dance unique to Simon's sound. He flies all over the keyboard, pausing leaping, running, skipping, hop-scotching -- his soul laughing on "El Manicero (The Peanut vendor) Part 1". Ah, metal drums, drift in and out to herald David Binney on alto sax. You ain't alive if this doesn't move you. Somewhere, a lady's feet are smiling and her hips dancing. Title track, "La Bikina" is a 14:30 reworked Venezuelan folk song with Simon and Binney pulling together a feel that recalls Lost Tribe or solo Binney releases. I also hear that gentle sway of ECM's Gallery here. This is quality through and through. A romance of keys. Adam Cruz on drums and Ben Street on bass are marvelous. Simon is pure magic on piano. Binney as always is flawless, fluid, and finds his signature release soloing. So much is so very good in each song. I can only say this is a delight to experience. "Ericka", by Simon's brother, Marlon, shows Edward playing very Jarrett. Simon outros with "El Manicero Part 2" ablaze with more incredible keyboard flourishes that segue into a march-like drivin', rhythmic progression, that is my favorite groove on the disk right behind "El Manicero Part 1". Binney and the rest of the crew each lift the moment higher and higher. Simon has accomplished a strong offering of quality jazz -- and a taste of other lands. Recommended. ~ John W. Patterson Other musicians featured: Mark Turner - Tenor Saxophone Pernel Saturnino - Percussion Diego Urcola - Trumpet Milton Cardona - Vocals
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