The David Bindman Ensemble Sunset Park Polyphony double CD release March 1
Musicians: David Bindman, composer/tenor and soprano saxophones, Wes Brown, contrabass, royal hartigan, drums, Art Hirahara, piano, Frank London, trumpet and flugelhorn, Reut Regev, trombone, recorded, mixed and mastered by Jon Rosenberg at Systems Two, Brooklyn NY
On March 1, 2012, saxophonist/composer David Bindman unveils his double cd Sunset Park Polyphony, a narrative collection of his original compositions performed by a six-member ensemble. The album’s songs and extended compositions explore layers of rhythmic and harmonic complexity and adapt elements from world music traditions, including West African rhythms and Indian raga (modes) and tala (time cycles). Bindman writes of the polyphony in the album/song title, improvisational voices, and compositional forms:
“In Sunset Park, Brooklyn one hears a polyphony of multiple languages, children playing, airplanes, traffic, music, and birds singing. I composed most of the music on this recording after moving to the Sunset Park neighborhood in 2006. The sounds are inspired by dreams and images of life and were only quantified during the notation process. In this music we offer paths to wander, to dance, to follow threads of imagination…”
Among the rhythmic features, two compositions integrate reductions, derived from ancient Indian tirripugar tala, in which time cycles reflect poetic phrasing, here getting progressively faster over a given framework in asymmetrical groupings of beats. Through this and other adaptations to jazz/contemporary music, and the musical interactions that develop, the ensemble offers expanded ways of playing over time. The Sunset image on the cd cover, by Laura Lambie Wallace, has many layers of color that mirror the underlying layers in the music.
Shape One opens the album with a theme and harmonic progression in a fast 15 beat cycle; Long Line Home is a meditation on memory, loss, and place; the title track Sunset Park Polyphony explores multiple speeds of seven, with themes rising from the Pantuvarali raga, a Hindu devotional modality; Robeson House Echoes has juxtaposed tonalities unfolding in non-metric and metric time; the six-part Landings Suite follows the epic journey of a fictional adventurer turned environmentalist and teacher: in The Transient, independent melody lines diverge and converge; Icarus Flies Towards the Sun and Returns is a dirge in canon form; Invisible Dance opens with drum calls and responses from the Ewe people of Ghana and has multiple simultaneous themes; Recurring Dream, set over a jazz/reggae rhythm, incorporates a bell pattern from the Fon people of Togo and Benin; the sparse Singing Bird Melody knits together sections of the suite; in the ballad Unspoken melodies moving in counterpoint; RH Reprise grooves in 13 pulses, felt in 6½ beats.
Bassist Wes Brown, drummer royal hartigan, and Bindman met at Wesleyan University in the early 1980s. They have played together in the group Juba and Fred Ho’s Afro Asian Music Ensemble, the West African/jazz group Talking Drums and royal hartigan's Blood Drum Spirit, joined by pianist Art Hirahara. Bindman formed his sextet in 2008; Reut Regev and Frank London are the ensemble’s newest members. This album follows David Bindman’s four recordings as a leader or co-leader, including the Brooklyn Sax Quartet’s acclaimed cds The Way of the Saxophone (Innova) and Far Side of Here (Omnitone), and numerous recordings as a side-person.
Reviews of Sunset Park Polyphony (excerpts):
'Jazz is at the forefront of the cultural renewal taking place in Brooklyn, and saxophonist David Bindman has been a quiet but leading force in that movement...Bindman and the ensemble imbue the spirit of enjoyment even as they adhere to an implication of social responsibility. They relate stories that are held together by collective musical memories. The ensemble's wide range of cultural appreciation is not a euphemism for world music. This is exceptionally creative jazz, at times played with great subtlety and sometimes with wild abandon.' - KARL ACKERMAN, All About Jazz
The strong path developed by saxophonist and composer David Bindman, while centered in the new current of free improvisation, is marked by multiple artistic elements, which include archaic and cutting edge musical forms, rhythmic cycles and modalities from West Africa, India and other ethnic traditions of complex melodic explorations that are rarely heard; and a search for the integration of musically cohesive planes into an aesthetic ideology able to represent diverse world circles, feelings, history, and cultural heritages based on a mimetic concept of classical aesthetics... David Bindman completes here a successful creative circle born of his curiosity to understand the world. - SERGIO PICCIRILLI, El Intruso
'Don't expect "new-age" noodling from saxophonist/composer Bindman...Intelligent, multi-rhythmic, at turns lyrical or challenging but never dull, this aural experience is worth your attention.' - RICHARD KAMINS, Step Tempest
'Bindman does a fine job of setting up pieces where two or more lines are happening simultaneously...He assembles different sections of freer exploration yet there is a strong underlying thread that holds it together...[a] splendid sextet.' - BRUCE GALLANTER, Downtown Music Gallery
'It takes a wealth of ideas and inspiration to fill two CDs and saxophonist David Bindman justifies his large-canvas approach at every step... The orchestration, for three horns, piano, bass and drums, is boundlessly colorful and indeed polyphonic: complex intersecting patterns give Bindman's work a dissonant harmonic outline, but also a melodic allure. Bindman also draws on Indian and African rhythmic traditions to create irregular cycles or "pulse groupings", which he explains in some detail in the liner notes. From these the music takes on a perpetually unresolved quality but also a strong element of groove and swing. It's an adventurous sound, though not wholly 'free' or 'outside'.' - DAVID R. ADLER, New York City Jazz Record
'Although the album might be considered an entry into the world music category, it's better to call it a new forceful strain of jazz.' - MIKE SHANLEY, Shanley on Music
'Bindman's compositions (he wrote all the tracks) are consistently compelling; they're melodic and rhythmic enough to be easily accessible, but complex enough and profound enough to reward deep listening, with piquant harmonies from the horns and moments of refreshing counterpoint. The band's not star-filled by the standards of the average music fan, but NYC jazz aficionados will recognize enough names to realize how good it is...Whether in concert or on record -- ideally, both -- David Bindman is someone whose work you should become familiar with, because music this good needs to be shared.' - STEVE HOLTJE, Culture Catch
David Bindman’s music has also been described as:
‘…smart, fun, and multiculturally funky.’ – Alexander Varty, Georgia Straight (review of The Way of the Saxophone)
‘…a cool, complex and visionary model of artistic endeavor.’ – Steven Loewy, All Music Guide (review of The Way of the Saxophone)
‘Bindman’s steamy Climate Conditions (talk about neohot jazz!)... Marvelous is Gadzo music, credited to the Ewe people of Ghana and Bindman. It shines in glorious West-African minimalist rhythms…’ – Mark Alburger, 21st Century Music (review of The Way of the Saxophone)
‘Inspired writing fuels the group...David Bindman pens a virtuoso turn on Dizzy Gillespie's 'A Night In Tunisia,' lightning variations on 'Spinning' and reggae asides on 'Jajo.'’ – Fred Bouchard, Downbeat (Review of Far Side of Here)
‘[Bindman, Fonda and Norton] …are great at finding a musical moment, attacking it, and pulverizing the traditional grooves into tiny glass shards…’ Ted Bonar, Modern Drummer (review of Imaginings)
‘Truly a merging of wide sounds…tuneful to the last.’ – Andy Bartlett, Cadence (review of Strawman Dance)