DAVID BINDMAN, saxophonist and composer, creates works that combine many elements: drawing on the motion of dance, exploring the complexity of melody and time unbound, and emphasizing improvisation at the core. His new works, inspired by journeys of discovery and transformation and by sights and sounds close to home, merge old and new musical forms, incorporating rhythmic cycles and modalities influenced by the musics of West Africa, India, and around the globe. Heard on the recordings The Way of the Saxophone (Innova) and Far Side of Here (Omnitone), and Blood Drum Spirit: Live in China (Innova), among many others, Bindman's work has been described as 'smart, fun, and multiculturally funky' (Georgia Straight), 'complex and visionary' (All Music Guide), and 'truly a merging of wide sounds' (Cadence). Bindman seeks to create work that offers, in any way possible, artistic alternatives to the profit-driven imperatives that imperil life, that deny justice, and that go against the human spirit and the natural world.
Bindman began the violin at five, at ten switched to alto sax, then played drums. Early on he listened to 'Hot Clarinets', a record giving to him by his grandmother, John Coltrane's albums 'Traneing In' and 'Crescent', and the musicians he saw perform in his hometown of Englewood, NJ, including Dizzy Gillespie. As a high school student living in Vermont, Bindman began improvising and composing, forming an ensemble with drummer Ben Wittman and pianist Jim Sugarman. He studied with saxophonist Stephen Horenstein, and was invited by trumpeters Arthur Brooks and Bill Dixon to take part in their classes and ensembles at Bennington College. Attending college at Wesleyan University in the early 1980s, Bindman studied with saxophonist Bill Barron and trombonist Bill Lowe, and with master artists in Wesleyan's World Music Department. He joined Talking Drums, led by Ghanaian master drummers Abraham Adzenyah and Freeman Donkor, and in 1987 toured the United States and recorded Some Day Catch Some Day Down (2011 reissue on Innova). With Bill Lowe, bassist Wes Brown, and drummer royal hartigan, Bindman was part of the collaborative ensemble JUBA. During this time he also performed and recorded with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and New Dalta Ahkri.
Living in New York since 1987, Bindman has been involved with numerous projects, ensembles, collaborative work, and recordings. Collaborations with Tyrone Henderson have included multimedia works that combine spoken words with musical scores, and visuals by Quimetta Perle, including 'The Madman' and 'Strawman Dance', with performances at Performance Space 122, the Nuyorican Poets Café, and the Green Room, Manchester, UK. The CD Strawman Dance (Konnex, 1994) was Cadence Magazine Editors Choice in 1994. In 1997, Bindman formed his trio with Kevin Norton and Joe Fonda. Of their CD Imaginings (CIMP), Modern Drummer's Ted Bonar writes 'Bindman, Fonda and Norton ... are great at finding a musical moment, attacking it, and pulverizing the traditional grooves into tiny glass shards, having plenty of space to do so in this trio setting.' Bindman continues to collaborate with Wes Brown and royal hartigan, recording BloodDrumSpirit and BloodDrumSpirit: Live in China (Innova) under hartigan's leadership, performing in the USA and China, and developing work that incorporates South Indian solkattu, Javanese gamelan, and West African rhythms. In 1995 Bindman co-founded the Brooklyn Sax Quartet with Fred Ho. In 2001, the BSQ released The Way of the Saxophone (Innova). Jazz Times' Reuben Jackson writes of the BSQ '...like the stitch work of a master tailor, the lines between improv and composition are wonderfully blurred'. Derek Taylor calls the quartet's music '...dynamically devised group saxophone creations by a foursome of reed titans'. Steve Loewy writes that Bindman's pieces 'reflect a cool, complex, and visionary model of artistic endeavor' (All Music Guide). Of Far Side of Here (Omnitone, 2005), '[T]his compact, direct and passionate playing portrays a keen cultural affinity to which we all hope to achieve' (Dennis Hollingsworth, Jazz Improv Magazine). Fred Bouchard writes that '[I]nspired writing fuels the group...co-founder David Bindman pens a virtuoso turn on Dizzy Gillespies 'A Night In Tunisia', lightning variations on 'Spinning' and reggae asides on 'Jajo' '(Downbeat). In 2003 the BSQ performed Bindman's arrangement of Hector Berlioz's 'Romeo and Juliet' live on WNYC's Soundcheck and at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater. The BSQ traveled on three tours to the western USA and Canada and has been described as 'a powerful and worldly ensemble' (Nate Chinen, New York Times).
In 2006 Bindman began composing a series of extended suites for sextet that draw from the western classical, African American, and global music traditions. Sunset Park Polyphony reflects the many languages spoken, the sounds of children playing, and the sounds of nature in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The work draws on complex rhythmic forms and multiple levels of time, with an introductory melodic alapana (rubato form) based on the pantuvarali (Hindu devotional) raga. The Landings Suite is a six-part work that follows an imaginary character's odyssey as s/he flies toward the outer reaches of the universe, only to return to confront the realities of life on earth, to teach, and to plant trees. The piece incorporates gahu rhythms from the Ewe people of Ghana. The ensemble has premiered these works in concerts in Brooklyn communities sponsored by the Brooklyn Arts Council. In October 2010, the ensemble recorded a double CD of material entitled Sunset Park Polyphony, to-be-released in March, 2012. The David Bindman Ensemble features Frank London, trumpet, Reut Regev, trombone, Art Hirahara, piano, Wes Brown, bass, royal hartigan, drums, and David Bindman, tenor and soprano saxophones and composer.
Recent activities include performances and workshops in Sweden with the collaborative quartet Stockholm Sodra and performances and workshops in the Philippines with Blood Drum Spirit. Bindman appears on recently released recordings by Fred Ho and Adam Lane.
Bindman was born in 1963 in New York City. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1985 and received an MA in World Music from Wesleyan in 1987. He has received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Queens Council on the Arts, the Puffin Foundation, Meet The Composer, and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music Performing Ensembles. He has taught in the New York City school system, at the Consortium for Worker Education, Bennington College, LaGuardia Community College, and The New School University, and has conducted master classes throughout the USA and in Canada.