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David Bindman reviews

Here are excerpts, with links to full reviews. Many thanks to all the writers!

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 (full review)

"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 (full review in Spanish), English translation (full review)

"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 (full review)

"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 (full review)

"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 (full review)

"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 (full review)

"This self-released two-CD sextet album is his masterpiece so far...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 (full review)

"The David Bindman Ensemble, in their recent 2-CD opus Sunset Park Polyphony (self-released), follows in the footsteps of ensembles dedicated to modern jazz composition and adventurous improvisation. Like the ensembles of Henry Threadgill, Dave Holland, and Tim Byrne, this band's music has structured compositional elements interwoven with contemporary soloing that is not quite free in the sense of Ayler or Ornette, but neither is it tied into bop-lifting, according to the jazz detective I hired to investigate... the ensemble has much going for it..." - GREGO APPLEGATE EDWARDS, Gapplegate Music Review (full review)

"Many of the arrangements create connective harmonies resulting from the wash of sonic colors that arises from counterpoint among three horns and three rhythm instruments. Concurrently the pieces use absolute textures or the suggestions of Karnatic and African sound-cycles to give added heft to their solos... an earnest CD from a mature artist Sunset Park Polyphony impresses with its professionalism and invention." - KEN WAXMAN, Jazzword.com (full review)

"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...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...Bindman's beautifully crafted and executed major statement should be a harbinger of things to come." - ED HAZELL, Jazziz Summer 2012 print edition (full review)

"The results, as interpreted by this crack sextet, are never less than absorbing and challenging. As the music twists and turns, everyone gets their turn in the spotlight. The musicians rise to the occasion of Bindman's demanding multi-part compositions with passionate and consistently impressive solo work by all hands. While the entire band is gratifyingly attuned to the intricacies of the music, special mention should be made of the critical role played by the elegantly stylish drumming of the underrated royal hartigan. Ninety minutes is a lot of time to fill, but it's in the nature of Bindman's compositional style to keep you happy with what's happening at the moment while you're wondering where the music is going to head next. With the ensemble keeping the music lively and high-spirited, the time practically flashes by. Well worth hearing, again and again." - STUART KREMSKY, IAJRC Journal (the quarterly magazine of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) Journal Vol. 45. No. 2 - June 2012 (full review)


David's works have also been described as:

"...smart, fun, and multiculturally funky." - Alexander Varty, Georgia Straight

"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

"...a cool, complex and visionary model of artistic endeavor." - Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

"[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

"Truly a merging of wide sounds...tuneful to the last." - Andy Bartlett, Cadence 

Press on the Brooklyn Sax Quartet:

"An experimental ethos dominates ...a powerful and worldly ensemble" - Nate Chinen, The New York Times

"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

"The vibrancy and emotion of the Brooklyn Sax Quartet underscores its social conscience. This inventive group puts together a program that embraces multiculturalism and acknowledges the struggle against injustice without proselytizing." - Terrell Holmes, All About Jazz

"...it's a treat to hear...At some point they break into pairs for contrast, at others allowing a lone voice rise above the group action." - Gary Giddins, Village Voice

"For fans of the saxophone, it just doesn't get any better than a saxophone quartet. And when it comes to that already rare configuration, nobody straddles both the jazz tradition and world music influences as the Brooklyn Saxophone Quartet does." - Roger Levesque, The Edmonton Journal

"This is a sax quartet to be reckoned with... The sum total from this varied set is an undiminishing musicality. It should be heard by any serious devotee of the saxophone ensemble and advanced improvised music." - Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence

"In much the way the World Sax Quartet blew the wax out of people's ears, BSQ is picking up where they left off and adding a multi-culti spin to the proceedings.   Wild and wooly without a lot of the excess that turns people off of free/new jazz, these players are concerned about the sound as a whole whether laying out or blasting a joyful noise.   The mainstream of tomorrow is fomenting here."  - Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap

"You won't even miss the bass and drums as these four horns bob and weave and play with the abandon of children - albeit very smart, well-trained children. Whether they're rendering their own songs or songs by Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Strayhorn, the musicians get deep inside the compositions and blow their way out with melody, harmony, and rhythm." - Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader

"Close your eyes and you will envision the orient, forgetting the fact that it is actually four saxophones from Brooklyn!   This compact, direct and passionate playing portrays a keen cultural affinity to which we all hope to achieve."  - Dennis Hollingsworth, Jazz Improv Magazine

"What I dig the most about this quartet is that they have heart, that breathes life into whatever they do.  Amen." - Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

"This quartet joins the World Saxophone Quartet and the Rova Saxophone Quartet as among the most innovative saxophone groups." - Steven Loewy, All-Music Guide

"Eschewing the global honorific of an obvious influence, The Brooklyn Sax Quartet still manifests a sound of worldly proportions. Individual pieces prove just as creatively potent as the four players negotiating them and incorporate everything from Ghanaian talking drum rhythms to R&B, Funk, Brazilian and Free Jazz elements (all deftly channeled through saxophones). The wealth of improvisatory ideas that are continuously plugged into the shifting ensemble relationships make for some gratifying listening and the differing sonorities of the saxes are exploited to galvanizing effect." - Derek Taylor, Cadence

"The Borough of Brooklyn may have lost (and may still be lamenting) its beloved Dodgers, but its residents could do worse than seeking this fo'tet -- David Bindman, Sam Furnace, Fred Ho and Chris Jonas -- to rally behind...The Brooklyn Sax Quartet's compositions and arrangements fully feature the instruments' rich timbres...the aggregation is also gifted at weaving rich rhythmic and melodic passages throughout. It's difficult not to think of Weather Report's maxim -- "We always solo and we never solo" -- when listening to The Way of the Saxophone's six tracks, for like the stitch work of a master tailor, the lines of improv and composition are wonderfully blurred." -  Reuben Jackson, Jazz Times

"On both the originals and radically reworked standards, the saxophonists effectively integrate melodic, swing-based playing with dissonant, free jazz blowing...Ultimately, the Brooklyn Sax Quartet succeeds in pulling together disparate elements -- harmonious tones with atonality and through-composed form with unfettered improvising -- because of the strong rapport between the players." - Chris Wong, Vancouver Courier

"...inventive and joyful, exploratory yet effortless." - Francois Couture, All Music Guide

"Here's the debut disc [The Way of the Saxophone] of four guys doing what they like to do best...This quartet is ages away from others who specialize in that odd genre of museum-lobby quality, thin-lipped and somewhat repressed 20th century French saxophone quartets." - Grant Chu Covell, La Folie Music Review Magazine

"Driven by the pens of Fred Ho and David Bindman, these guys blend the legacies of the WSQ and Rova. They're precise, energetic, fanciful and down with entertainment enough to put a prog spin on "Jitterbug Waltz" - Jim Macnie, Village Voice

"Comparisons will be made to the World Saxophone Quartet - but these will fall short, as comparisons often do. This group is more muscular, less mannered and, if possible, more eclectic...Bindman slowly drifts into "Jitterbug Waltz". Fred sets the pace, the high horns lay the chords, and Jonas goes skating. We didn't expect such delicacy, but then again we didn't expect any of this. This group is strong, and they will be listened to." - John Barrett, JazzUSA.com

"...the Quartet offers butter-rich tones and a penchant for polyrhythms that suggest a compositional ethic stewed over years of practice, steeped in the sounds of the Brooklyn streets...The Brooklyn Sax Quartet creates music you don't need to understand to sit and sway in its rapturous hold." - Aaron Shuman, SF Weekly

“Perhaps most impressive about the BSQ’s playing are the nuances that the group manages amid the sheer kinetics and energy of its sound. Bindman, Ho, Newsome, and Rothenberg are virtuosos; the facility each musician has on his instrument brings added complexity to Bindman's and Ho’s writing." - Jon Blitzer, Columbia Daily Spectator January 27, 2006

"Energized by both the freshness that comes from pure ensemble improvisation and the timeless quality born of respectful recasting of classic pieces of music, the BSQ succeeds in its quest to attach new, beautifully colored elements to the jazz collage in an effort to attract new ears while satisfying the older ones. That's one hell of a feat considering that serious jazz listeners are a discerning bunch. But this particular fearless foursome will surprise even the staunchest skeptic." - Michael Henningsen, Weekly Alibi (Albuquerque), April 7 - 13, 2005

"It's nice to know the sweet beast we call music is in such good hands, as sweet and beastly as ever." - Nathaniel Mackey


Line drawing by Iliana Zamorska.
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