Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings At Jazz Gallery Tomorrow

September 18, 2009

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Tomorrow night, cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum and his improvising chamber ensemble, SpiderMonkey Strings, will celebrate the release of their second recording, Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), with a two-set performance at New York’s Jazz Gallery.

The centerpiece of the record is Bynum’s six-movement title suite—what he calls a secular oratorio—based on his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt). It also features his distinctive arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra that corresponds with the recording’s central theme of “the logic of dreams.”

This is the most recent in a string of well-received recordings featuring Bynum as a leader/co-leader that includes Positive Catastrophe’s Garabatos Volume One (Cuneiform Records), The Thirteenth Assembly’s (un)sentimental (Important Records), and the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY).

Created seven years ago, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings currently features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

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New Taylor Ho Bynum CD Released Today

September 15, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum‘s latest recording as a leader, Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), officially hits the streets today.

The second release from his improvising chamber group, SpiderMonkey Strings, the record documents the title suite, a secular oratorio the group has been performing at concerts around the world since early 2008, as well as innovative arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra.

This seven year-old ensemble features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

Bynum and the group will celebrate with two sets at New York’s Jazz Gallery on Saturday, September 19th.

In his listing for the performance in the Village Voice, Jim Macnie writes, “Whether he’s making cinematic soundscapes for snippets of his sister’s surrealistic novel, or bringing a heavenly tone to such earthy fare as Ellington’s ‘The Mooche,’ the cornet player makes music that places nuance on the top of the priority list. The vocals are fetching and flighty; the repertory choices discerning and deft.”


Harris Eisenstadt In August

August 7, 2009
Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Photo by Peter Gannushkin

August may be the cruelest month, and often a little quieter than normal as people gear up for the flood of new fall releases and tours, but it does provide you with three chances to catch Harris Eisenstadt in New York behind the drum kit with some noteworthy ensembles.

He’ll fill-in for Andrew Drury in Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, be part of the second performance of Jessica Pavone‘s new quartet at Barbès and reconvene with an improvising quartet led by James Ilgenfritz at Le Grand Dakar.

Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge
Sunday, August 9th @ Flushing Meadows Corona Park (New York, NY)

Jessica Pavone  Presents Wordless Songs Inspired by Life’s Cast of Characters
Wednesday, August 12th @ Barbès (Brooklyn, NY)

Dave Ballou/Ben Gerstein/James Ilgenfritz/Harris Eisenstadt
Tuesday, August 18th @ Le Grand Dakar (Brooklyn, NY)

Please stay tuned for more news about Eisenstadt’s upcoming release, Canada Day (Clean Feed), including fall tour dates!


New CD From Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings Coming September 15th

June 17, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

On September 15th, Firehouse 12 Records will release Madeleine Dreams (FH12-04-01-011), the second recording from cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum‘s improvising chamber ensemble, SpiderMonkey Strings. The seven year-old group features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

The centerpiece of this release is Bynum’s titular composition, a six-movement secular oratorio inspired by Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt), a 2004 novel written by his sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, and its theme of the logic of dreams. The piece, which the band has performed on tour since its March 2008 debut at New York’s Roulette, draws text from the book, a magical-realist fable of a girl’s coming of age that moves between dreams and reality in 19th century France. Madeleine Dreams also documents Bynum’s distinctive arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra.

“Dreams, and the literature of dreaming, including the work of such authors as Borges, Murakami, Okri, and Calvino, are an ongoing artistic inspiration for me,” writes Bynum in the liner notes. “The logic of dreams shows how radically yet naturally one’s subconscious can transform known elements into the surreal, seamlessly moving between the mundane and the fantastic. The remaining pieces are by three of my musical heroes, each of whom embraced dreams, mythology, and fiction in his own way. I also like the idea of SpiderMonkey Strings as a most unusual kind of repertory band.”

Named after two mythical tricksters, Anansi the Spider of West Africa and the Monkey King of China, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings has performed a diverse range of extended suites with a genre-defying spirit and an amiable sense of humor since 2002. The band first took shape as a string quartet with cornet and guitar created to perform music Bynum wrote for a short film score. He later added tuba and drums and began writing eclectic long-form works for the group, which he documented on its 2005 debut, Other Stories [Three Suites] (482 Music). The recent addition of Ms. Kitamura furthers the evolution of the group’s sound by bringing the implicit narrative elements of Bynum’s music to the forefront.

Critics have called Bynum “a young brass master and compelling composer” (Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix), “a remarkable writer, improviser and bandleader” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “one of the most exciting figures in jazz’s new power generation” (Steve Dollar, Time Out Chicago). “Over the past decade,” wrote Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise, “Bynum has shown himself to be a worthy addition to the canon of maverick trumpeters that includes such illustrious names as Wadada Leo Smith, Ron Miles, Cuong Vu and Arve Henrikson.” The Chicago Reader‘s Peter Margasak adds, “Taylor Ho Bynum cemented his reputation as one of the most compelling and progressive trumpeters and bandleaders currently active, at home in every corner of the creative-music map.”

Bynum’s expansive resume includes collaborations with both his contemporaries and legendary figures alike, most notably the iconic saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, with whom he has performed and recorded extensively over the past decade. His most recent releases as a leader/co-leader include Positive Catastrophe’s Garabatos Volume One (Cuneiform Records), The Thirteenth Assembly’s (un)sentimental (Important Records), and the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY). He is also a member of such groups as The Convergence Quartet, Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge, the Joe Morris Bass Quartet and the large ensembles of Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor. In addition, he is a curator and board member for the Festival of New Trumpet (FONT) Music and a partner in Firehouse 12 Records.

Learn more at http://www.taylorhobynum.com


Vision Festival XIII Reviewed in the December Issue of Jazz Improv NY

December 11, 2008

This just in from our better-late-than-never bureau, writer Ken Weiss’ extensive review of Vision Festival XIII, held in New York this past June, graces the pages of the December issue of Jazz Improv NY.  

The review, which spans four pages, including an entire page of original photos, covers a wide range of performances from three of the six nights of the festival, as well as the Saturday afternoon Emerging Artist Showcase.

It’s a great way to get a feel for the diversity of this seminal week-long event, which Weiss calls “New York City’s premier annual avant-garde mystical happening.”  He adds, “this festival continues to serve as the foundation that stabilizes the city’s creative jazz music scene, offering a meeting place for fans (many of whom come from Europe each year) and fellow musicians to experience some of the current integral soundshapers and also for industry types to congregate and make new connections with artists.”

If you don’t live in New York, where the magazine is distributed free at venues and other jazz-related sites, you can download this month’s issue, with Jimmy Heath on the cover, here (PDF).  The review begins on page 10.


William Parker’s Double Sunrise Over Neptune A 2008 AllMusic Favorite

December 9, 2008

The staff at AllMusic (AMG) has chosen William Parker’s orchestral release, Double Sunrise Over Neptune (Arts for Art/AUM Fidelity), as one of its Favorite Jazz Albums of 2008.

Earlier in the year, in his review of the record for the site, AMG’s Michael G. Nastos wrote, “While each project reaches ever higher levels, this recording from the twelfth annual Vision Festival in New York City might be close to his zenith.  The music is as stunning as any Parker has devised in his career…”


Bill Dixon’s Latest CD Among The Wire’s Top 50 of 2008

December 8, 2008

Legendary trumpeter/composer/educator Bill Dixon’s most recent release, 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (Arts for Art/AUM Fidelity), is #19 on The Wire’s Top 50 of 2008 as listed in the January 2009 issue.  

This live concert recording, the first collection of all original orchestral music released under Dixon’s name since 1967’s momentous Intents and Purposes (RCA Victor), documents the world premiere performance of the specially commissioned, hour-long titular work at Vision Festival XII in 2007.   

Dixon’s AUM Fidelity label mate, William Parker, earned a spot on the magazine’s Best of 2008 list in the Jazz & Improv category for his own live orchestral recording, Double Sunrise Over Neptune, also specially commissioned by, and performed at, Vision Festival XII.

Guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson’s highly acclaimed debut as a leader, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records), was also voted one of the year’s best in that category. 

Congratulations to all the artists involved and those who helped make these recordings possible.