Alto saxophonist David Binney's follow-up to his extraordinary CD South offers a different approach overall while retaining the fresh contemporary style that underlines his status as an innovator and unique voice. Pianist Uri Caine is retained, drummer Jim Black takes over for Brian Blade, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin teams with Binney on two tracks, Tim LeFebvre is a new addition on electric bass guitar, and Wayne Krantz is in for Adam Rogers on electric guitar. To Binney, balance is an elusive commodity, and nearly impossible to maintain. His love for the fusion and funk music of the '70s is translated into modern terms and gradations. On the high-end level of complexity, the title track displays repeat themes in varying modes and shifting accented tempos, mixed meters, and a funky underpinning completely slowing on the bridge. The chase is on during "Speedy's 9 Is 10" with Binney and McCaslin in hot pursuit, interrupted by the steel guitar of Rogers during his lone cameo appearance on the CD with bassist Fima Ephron. A wild dissected funk delivered by Black during "Fidene" is shaded by creature-feature and groping electronic sounds. There are a few soul ballads that frame Binney's tart alto better than the larger group pieces, and Caine's pretty piano is also showcased in "We Always Cried" and "Perenne." An expanded ensemble with guest Peck Almond elicits clarion calls in 10/8 time during the short "Midnight Sevilla," and there are two takes of the fun and funky "Arlmyn Trangent," again with the wonderful McCaslin. Black is a constant source of rhythmic drive and inventiveness, giving Binney a large palette to paint broad color strokes. While not as vital as South, Balance is a worthy addition to the discography of one of the top performers in modern progressive jazz.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos