|That this is cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum's fourth leadership date so far this year speaks volumes about his growing stature as a bandleader, writer and virtuoso instrumentalist. Justly known as one of celebrated composer/saxophonist Anthony Braxton's foremost interpreters over the last decade, Bynum's star now shines even more brightly in the creative music firmament, thanks to these multiple projects, and parts in Jason Kao Hwang's Edge, the Convergence Quartet and the orchestras of Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor.
For the second outing of his improvising chamber ensemble Spider Monkey Strings, Bynum further tweaks the already oddball line-up by adding Kyoko Kitamura's voice to the group's four strings, tuba and drums. It's a significant change and a necessary one, given that the centerpiece of the disc is the 27-minute suite "Madeleine Dreams," based on extracts from the 2004 National Book Award finalist novel Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt, 2004), by his sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum.
Bynum's richly detailed settings for his sister's words take on some of the dreamlike aspects of the source material, with his winningly oblique arrangements mirroring the opacity of the text. Even at their most formal, in counterpoint to the opening and closing recitations of "hush," the chamber correctness is subverted by Pete Fitzpatrick's subtle guitar electronics. Elsewhere, as in "objects lost on journeys"—the longest section of the suite—the impressionistic ensemble envelopes Kitamura's slinky vocal in a swirling mass of intertwining lines, parting briefly for Bynum's cornet to cavort over skittering guitar, then later a muted dialogue for pizzicato strings and tuba. Each repeated listen uncovers correspondingly more depth to the artistry of this heartfelt and challenging project. Continue reading at ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM.