May 21, 2024

Binker & Moses – “Alive In The East?” – a beast of gut-grabbing vital free-jazz

GEARBOX RECORDS 29th June 2018

For a duo, Binker and Moses have a big band.

I should explain: The young jazz duo of Binker Golding (sax) and Moses Boyd (drums) are brilliant as a duo (check out their debut – Dem Ones) but attract fellow travellers and their second album was half duo, half band. And it’s all good.

This live set has the excitement of their studio discs plus a bit more. And don’t worry, it isn’t a rehash. In any place it touches on similar territory to the other discs, it’s only a jumping off point to the further reaches again. This is visceral stuff, wrenching whoops and cheers from an excited crowd as climaxes build or improbable explorations head into outer space.

The set opens on two drummers, Moses Boyd and Yussef Dayes on some explosive work. The next track is an exploratory noodling conversation with two saxes – Binker Golding and the British god of free jazz, Evan Parker. A trumpet (Byron Wallen) joins the mix, expressively voicing alongside Tori Handsley on the harp. What a range of sounds – that harp sounds like a koto sometimes, other times, a piano. Sax sounds flutter, the drums build and the crowd starts hollering. This isn’t beard-stroking “cool” jazz.

Evan Parker does his hallmark circular breathing non-stop sax sheets in a wild solo then the trumpet gets centre stage, supported by sensitive percussion before building to sax, trumpet, scattershot drums and piano hammering – intense! Most of these pieces flow one into the other and the feel is of a wave of improvisation, touching down occasionally on reference nodes before heading straight back out.

Quieter sax meanders, the harp is plucked and drums wander the periphery. The harp begins to sound like a blues guitar and the whole band joins in, blowing jazz with blue notes. Lonesome blue horns see us out to a quiet end.

Recorded in Stoke Newington in front of a very participative audience, this is a companion to the band sounds of Journey To The Mountain Of Forever but stands alone as a huge experience and the antithesis of background music. It is a high-wire act of improvisational bravery and a journey into intricate detail.

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