Reminder: Taylor Ho Bynum’s November Tour Comes to New York’s Jazz Gallery Friday and Saturday

November 13, 2008


On Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th, cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum will perform with three of his own bands over the course of two nights at New York’s Jazz Gallery.  These performances are part of a larger tour celebrating both the release of the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s second recording, Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY 675), and the most recent performances of his secular oratorio, Madeleine Dreams, with his improvising chamber jazz ensemble, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings.  The latter will be recorded at the end of the tour for Firehouse 12 Records.

Bynum will kick-off his two-night stand on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. with an opening set by his longstanding trio, featuring fellow Boston natives, Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums).  His sextet, which on this night will augment his trio with Jason Kao Hwang (violin and viola), Matt Bauder (tenor sax and clarinet) and Evan O’Reilly (guitar), will then perform a 10:30 p.m. set featuring music from its latest CD.  The following night, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings will perform Madeleine Dreams, as well as other original material and music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra, at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m.  The group will feature Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums), with special guest, Kyoko Kitamura (vocals and electronics).

The Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s multiple guitar line-up was inspired by bands such as Miles Davis’ Dark Magus and Agharta groups, Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time and Henry Threadgill’s Very Very Circus.  Two chordal instruments, along with the rest of the flexible and unusual instrumentation, also allows Bynum to juxtapose independent sub-ensembles within a larger group (including the core trio), a compositional method inspired by the music of Charles Ives and Anthony Braxton.  Critics called the group’s 2007 debut, The Middle Picture (Firehouse 12 Records), “consistently compelling listening” (Time Out New York) and “the shape of jazz to come” (Philip Clark, The Wire), noting that the band “is like no other outfit around” (Brent Burton, JazzTimes).

Named after two mythic tricksters, Anansi the Spider of West Africa and the Monkey King of China, SpiderMonkey Strings has performed a diverse range of Bynum’s extended suites with a genre-defying spirit and distinctive sense of humor.  In March 2008, the group presented the world premiere performance of Madeleine Dreams at Roulette in New York before embarking on a tour of Belgium and The Netherlands.  The piece was inspired by the novel Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt), a 2004 National Book Award finalist written by Bynum’s sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, drawing text from the book and further exploring its theme of “the logic of dreams,” a recurring thread in Bynum’s work as a composer.  The band will document Madeleine Dreams in the studio on November 22nd after additional performances in Boston and New Haven as the follow-up to its 2003 debut, Other Stories [Three Suites] (482 Music).

“Cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum is at the forefront of a younger generation of creative musicians in New York,” writes’s John Sharpe. “He combines thrilling improvisation with stealthy composition, unconfined by genre.”  Other critics agree, calling him “one of the most exciting figures in jazz’s new power generation” (Steve Dollar, Time Out Chicago), “a strong cornetist and serious-minded composer with experimental tendencies” (Nate Chinen, New York Times) and “an agile and creative improviser who sounds like no one but himself” (Chris Kelsey, JazzTimes).  Jazzwise reviewer Kevin Le Gendre adds, “Bynum is thinking outside of the jazz box without getting trapped inside another in the process.”

Bynum’s expansive resume includes a wide variety of work 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.  Along with The Middle Picture, his most recent releases as a bandleader include True Events (482 Music, 2007), a recording of cornet/percussion duets with Tomas Fujiwara that veteran jazz writers Howard Mandel, Brian Morton and K. Leander Williams, among others, included on their top 10 lists for the year.  In addition to leading his own bands, Bynum is a member of such groups as Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge and the large ensembles of Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor.  He is also a curator for the annual Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) in New York and a partner in New Haven’s Firehouse 12 Records label.  Learn more at