Sunday, June 10, 2007

Taylor Ho Bynum - The Middle Picture (Firehouse, 2007) ***

Taylor Ho Bynum has been the trumpet player in Anthony Braxton bands, but the music he brings on this album cannot be compared, with the exception on the importance given to compositional structure. Ho Bynum is accompanied by a band consisting of Matt Bauder (sax, clarinet), Mary Halvorson and Evan O'Reilly (electric guitar), Jessica Pavone (viola and electric bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums). "Brooklyn With An E", the opening track, brings us a light story, with the guitar playing a repetitive dissonant pattern, with drums and cornet filling the space. "Woods" starts with solo cornet and after about three minutes the rest of the band barges in with pointillistic notes without apparent coherence out which the viola emerges with a sad improvisation. Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way" brings a very sad consecutive sax and cornets solos on top of menacing percussion, guitar and bass. Throughout the album Taylor Ho Bynum uses many influences, but he tears them apart first, then sticks them together again like in a collage, but in an abstract manner, without recognisable figures. Each time a theme emerges, or a rhythm, or even an instrument, it is immediately replaced by something else. This offers lots of variation for sure, yet as a listener you loose every foothold you expect to get. And that becomes tiring after a while... There is without a doubt a strong unity in the musical vision, and all tracks fit perfectly well together, but it is not really my thing.

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