New York City "Downtown Scene" alto saxophonist David Binney has produced a winner here. Binney has gained some much-deserved recognition due to his dazzling virtuosity with artists such as Drew Gress, Edward Simon and the beloved hard-edged jazz-fusion band, Lost Tribe. Free To Dream is Binney's first solo effort on his newly formed Mythology Records label. Here, Binney is supported by a mini-brass section, exotic percussion, muscular rhythms and long time associate Edward Simon on the piano. Free To Dream conjures up peaceful and atmospheric scenarios yet hits home with glistening upbeat brass arrangements and exquisite soloing.
The forecast is crystalline, bright and sunny as detected from the opening moments of Binney's original composition, "Goddess," commencing with gorgeous ensemble work supported by driving rhythms that insinuate Latin-Samba. Here, Binney reaches for the stars with lyrically engaging choruses on his Alto Sax. Binney's fierce and impossibly fast Alto maneuvers intensify the thematic development over the top while the horns and rhythm section push forward. The talented pianist Edward Simon is the underlying catalyst with his industrious and palpitating left-hand chord progressions.
All the tracks are Binney compositions and the mood is consistently positive. Binney and associates create surreal soundscapes that prompt the imagination into realizations of vivid imagery. The overall tone equates to tranquillity and elation yet at times, breathes fire. The track titled "Oddman" sees Binney whipping his alto into submission with obvious determination. Binney's meticulous and melodic phrasing over a slight-funk back beat contrasts well with the low register brass section featuring the excellent Donny McCaslin on tenor sax.
It must be stated that all participants are in fine form throughout the entire recording. "Voice Of Reason" takes the listener on a journey, as pianist Edward Simon is the tour guide. Simon plays traffic cop while directing the Brass section through majestic and breezy charts. Simon's passionate phrasing and climatic movement emits a sense of contemplation or some degree of seeking answers to life's questions. The gradual convergence of all musical parts leads to a fitting climax. Ethereal at times; however, this is not your stereotypical over-produced smooth jazz product.
Free To Dream comprises intelligent arrangements, heartfelt well-stated soloing and thought provoking compositions. "Sea Of Allurement" is introspective yet vibrant with wonderful interplay among the twin Saxophones of Binney and McCaslin.
Free To Dream is a jazz outing of depth and originality. If this writer were to make a late edition to a jazz top 10 list for 1998, Free To Dream would be included. Highly Recommended.
Track Listing: Goddess; Jalama; Oddman; One Year Ago; Girl of the Southern Sky; Voice of Reason; The Mondello Line; Where the Rain Shines; Free to Dream; I Lie Waiting...; Sea of Allurement.
Personnel: David Binney: Alto Sax; Donny McClaslin: Tenor Sax; Edward Simon: Piano; Adam Rogers: Classical Guitar; Scott Colley: Bass; Jeff Hirshfield: Drums; Kenny Wolleson: Percussion; Daniel Sadownick: Percussion; Alex Sipiagin: Fluglehorn, Trumpet; Clark Gayton: Trombone; Jamie Baum: Flute, Alto Flute; Doug Yates: Bass Clarinet.