June 18, 2024

Binker and Moses – Journey To The Mountain Of Forever      ‘fresh, thrilling, direct’

GEARBOX RECORDS – 28 July 2017

This is the freshest, most exciting release in ages. A duo, Binker and Moses play saxophone and drums. That’s it. Simple, clean and thrilling – the communication is absolutely pure and the connection between the two is electric. You can hear that this is an act that likes to play in the round, facing each other and playing off each other directly.

Check out the funky and driven ‘Intoxication From The Jahmonishi Leaves’ for grooves that an old school Blue Note fan can grab or the detailed smokey conversation in ‘The Departure’.  ‘Fete By The River’ is sweet and cheeky. Every track has a distinct personality and I’m captivated because the simplicity of the sound of the duo means each musician’s voice is directly heard. They start with the idea of a riff and take it from there: Sparkling interplay, solos, off-piste excursions; they are all here.

Binker and Moses have been winning plaudits and awards for their startling debut, Dem Ones, from a couple of years ago. That shook expectations of what jazz can do in the modern day but this is, if anything, even better – instantly accessible through a sweetening of the tunes and a terrific sense of spontaneity. Dem Ones famously took only a day to record and won MOBO awards.  This double set sounds as straight-ahead and should, in a perfect world, sell millions.

Both from London, they have learnt their chops and earnt their laurels in many bands. Binker Golding plays the sax and Moses Boyd plays the drums. What they play crosses boundaries. It is definitely improvised Free Jazz but not as honky as, say Ornette Coleman or Evan Parker. It hangs on a framework and carries grooves that can be picked up on by fans of fifties and sixties combos like Horace Silver or Lee Morgan’s bands. There is always something to hang your ears on, however shonky things get (like the intense ‘Trees On Fire’).

What really makes this set is that it is a two-record album and each alone is worth the price of admission. Disc two is the duo with a full band. There is a trumpet, a tabla, a harp and another drummer as well as UK free-jazz legend, Evan Parker, on his soprano sax. It must take some confidence to have Parker in your band. I once heard him play solo for a whole hour, throwing flurries of improvised notes and never repeating. On this disc the effect is to triple up the horns and triple up the drums, making a rolling and slightly mellowed, busy machine. The drums / table combo becomes intricate and thunderous at the same time, while the horns intertwine and counter each other. The busy first track sees Evan Parker throwing out an impossible flow of notes as he does his circular breathing, providing a foil to Binker’s sax. As the set progresses, slow passages emerge and holes, into which are scattered brassy scurries of note-leaves and instruments can be heard exploring the new spaces. The breadth of players allows each to explore the sounds just a bit wider. At one point I am reminded of Coltrane and Eric Dolphy playing ‘Softly As In A Morning Sunrise’ and that’s about as good as it gets.

Disc one is my choice for a first listen but the second is thrilling but different. Buy it for the duo disc or buy it for the band disc: Either way, you get an awesome extra disc.

Sometimes it rolls, sometimes it swings, sometimes it trots, howls and rattles. My album of the year so far.

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