Taylor Ho Bynum has developed a distinct voice on trumpet -- not something easy to do. Along with Greg Kelley and a few others, Bynum focuses his voice so that the heart of his efforts is on the sound of the horn -- its timbre and shadings. The trumpeter favors soft quick tones, often muted, with fine, lithe lines sputtered at lightening speeds. Here, he duos with percussionist Eric Rosenthal for a mixed set of free improvisations and standards (similar in concept to what they accomplished on And Only Life My Lush Lament). The takes on standards prove the most interesting, even fascinating, as the two re-define tunes such as Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood," Vernon Duke's "Autumn in New York," and Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge." The trumpeter treats the familiar pieces as though they are being played for the first time. He digs inside the melodies, and turns them inside out, with gentle persuasion, as his partner, Rosenthal, punches lightly at his side. This is music that requires close listening; it is subtle, highly artistic, and relies on nuance as much as anything. While a sameness sometimes seeps in, the unusual versions of familiar songs perk the ears. The four freely improvised pieces are somewhat less convincing, though equally well-played, and the opening "Karst Topography" opens with an explosion of energy from the trumpeter that is matched note-for-note by his partner. Bynum and Rosenthal are bursting with talent, and as this recording shows, they are capable of harnessing their collective energies to produce something just a little bit different.
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