David Binney

Point Game

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Some jazzmen have an either/or mentality when it comes to electric and acoustic music. There are jazz purists who believe that fusion is a form of heresy, and there are some fusionists who wouldn't be caught dead recording a bop album. But Dave Binney is more flexible than that; the alto and soprano saxophonist is comfortable in both acoustic and electric settings. Recorded for France's Owl label in 1989, Point Game is a fusion date that finds Binney joined by Lonnie Plaxico on electric bass, Adam Rogers on electric guitar, Edward Simon on acoustic piano and synthesizers, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums. The saxman combines jazz with rock and funk, and he often does so in a Michael Brecker-ish fashion. One hears a strong Brecker influence on Binney originals like "The Bronx" and "Subjection," both of which are funky in an intellectual, abstract sort of way. The interesting thing is that Binney brings such a strong Brecker influence to the alto sax, his primary instrument. There are plenty of tenormen who have been heavily influenced by Brecker, including Bill Evans (the saxophonist, not the late pianist), Bob Berg, Bob Malach, and Bob Shepard. But not many of the altoists who emerged in the '80s are as Brecker-influenced as Binney; in the '80s, David Sanborn was the role model for many emerging altoists (certainly in the electric jazz realm). That isn't to say that Binney is trying to be a Brecker clone; he has an attractive tone that also owes a lot to fellow altoists like Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean. Although not for jazz purists or bop snobs, Point Game is a solid effort that will appeal to those who like their fusion on the cerebral side.

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