New York composer Elliott Sharp was in the East Village café, Binibon, the night in 1981 when paroled murderer and best-selling author Jack Henry Abbott, a protégé of Norman Mailer's, knifed a waiter to death, and this music theater piece describes the events of that night. In topic and tone Sharp's hour-long work Binibon resembles John Moran's docu-opera The Manson Family in its unflinching look at a celebrity-related crime. With a libretto by Jack Womack, who also serves as the narrator, it is structured like a radio play, but it was created to be theatrically performed. Using spoken text, various eyewitnesses, and Abbott himself to set the scene and describe the murder, it is underscored by a dark, dramatically vivid, heavily processed instrumental commentary. Sharp performs all the instrumental parts (guitars, saxophones, bass synthesizers, clarinets, percussion, drum, and sample programming) and gives the lurid events a stark, dramatic shape through the skillful manipulation and integration of his many sound sources; although there is virtually no singing, Sharp is clearly a composer who knows how to tell a story with music. The very fine cast of actors creates an engaging and appealing ensemble, even though the story they tell is grim. The recording was made shortly after the work's 2009 stage premiere at The Kitchen. Binibon should be of strong interest to fans of experimental developments in music theater.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins