Review of Sunset Park Polyphony by Ed Hazell in Jazziz Summer 2012 print edition
David Bindman Ensemble, Sunset Park Polyphony (self-produced)
The self-released Sunset Park Polyphony is saxophonist David Bindman's most ambitious recording to date. On this double-CD, he defines himself as a bandleader, composer and improviser more fully than on previous recordings. His compositions blend jazz with musical elements from India and Africa, without sounding a bit like world-music fusion. They're complex, but lyrical and clear, and broadly programmatic.
According to liner notes, the nostalgic "Long Line Home" contains autobiographical impressions of childhood, while the title track was inspired by observations of daily life in his Brooklyn neighborhood. "Landings Suite," the lengthy piece that occupies most of the second disc, weaves political, cultural and metaphysical themes into a personal mythology. Bindman's solo on the title track deftly displays tension and release, allowing it to breathe naturally. Moreover, his thoughtful solo on "The Transient" contains varied phrasing and textures while maintaining an even-keeled intensity.
The sextet handles the challenges of compositions such as "Shape One," which contains multiple layers of time, without breaking a sweat. Thus, the music, even at its knottiest, carries a comfortable, lived-in quality. And shifting rhythmic foundations don't trip them up as soloists, either.
Pianist Art Hirahara consistently raises the emotional stakes, studding his solos on "Shape One" with bruising chords and long, sprinting lines. Trumpeter Frank London takes a subtly colored, soft-textured solo on "Robeson House Echoes," an homage to the late trumpeter Bill Dixon. Trombonist Reut Regev "livelies up" the reggae-inflected sections of "Recurring Dream," and his duet with bassist Wes Brown is one of the highlights of "The Transient." Meanwhile, drummer royal hartigan keeps everyone in the groove with his relaxed, conversational trap kit.
Bindman's beautifully crafted and executed major statement should be a harbinger of things to come.