David Binney, Tomorrow’s Journey Review
by Icrom Bigrad
David Binney is breaking new ground with his latest album, Tomorrow’s Journey. The seven songs present fresh artistry and unhinged genre-defying originality that expands the conventional jazz mold. Binney explains, “This record is me pushing my compositions for an acoustic ensemble setting and playing to new levels with a group of musicians who were able and willing to learn the music but capable of bringing fire and energy from live performances into the studio. That’s a difficult thing to do, and I think that on this record, we get there and beyond.” The album features a talented Los Angeles-based band of pianists Luca Mendoza and Paul Cornish, bassists Ethan Moffit and Logan Kane, drummer Benjamin Ring, percussionist Kenny Wolleson, and brass players Aaron Janik and Jon Hatamiya. Binney notes, “The two basses were a new setting for me to write for. I’ve made numerous records with two drummers, but this was the first whole album with two basses.”
“Second to None” is the first track and our first chance to hear what Binney has been describing. The expanded rhythm section does add energy and supports Binney’s aggressive soloing. He aggressively attacks each phrase with legato runs that swirl over the harmony. In general, “Second to None” is an engaging, accessible, and brilliantly performed selection by both Binney and the ensemble.
Binney describes Tomorrow’s Journey as “the most musically intricate acoustic project [he’s] worked on thus far,” attributing the musical complexity to having adequate time to compose more involved music and rehearse with his group in Los Angeles in his home studio. A fine example of this is the many shifts and textures of “Opal.” The melody develops through multiple transitions in rhythmic activity and pulse. Yet, the ensemble navigates these moods with exceptional musical focus and group cohesion.
Tomorrow’s Journey is yet another project where Binney shows his ability to represent new directions and influences. Here with a classic acoustic ensemble setting, the compositions by Binney, as well as compositions “Casa,” written by Luca Mendoza, and “Cali Culture,” co-composed by Ambrose Akinmusire and Binney, give a wide angle of his forward-thinking in the jazz idiom.