David Binney's fruitful partnership with fellow saxophonist Chris Potter yields a sound unlike any other tandem in contemporary music. The way Binney's alto sax merges with Potter's tenor creates a Wall of Sound in melody and harmony that strikes the ear with a stunning clarity and innovative timbre, compounded by an edgy tone that simultaneously soars and sings. Welcome to Life is a parallel recording to Binney's extraordinary effort South for the ACT label, using the same personnel except the swapping of pianist Uri Caine for Craig Taborn on this album. Drummer Brian Blade, bassist Scott Colley, and electric guitarist Aaron Rogers team with the horns to create fresh, groundbreaking music in the best sense within a current day and progressive aesthetic. Their collective attitude makes for some consistently thrilling sounds, starting with the funky, complex 3/4 in 5/4 mixed meters during "Soldifolier," while the title track proves the hand-in-glove approach from the saxophonists holds a certain kinetic energy molded in modality and clockwork rhythms from Blade. Colley struts with ultimate confidence buoyed by Blade's incredibly insistent tight drum gymnastics on the loping, blues infused "Lisliel." Things really click on "Sintra," a fun, loose prism of multiple melodies and harmonies from Binney and Potter in 7/8 time. Rogers and Taborn repeat an advanced line similar to a Mahavishnu Orchestra signature with spare saxophone counterpoint, while a very quick waltz tempo employed on "Ici" showcases the dizzying virtuosity and simpatico feelings between Binney's piquant alto and the brawny tenor of Potter. Taborn's solos and comping are consistently brilliant, as his star continues to rise and ascend into the outer reaches, grounded on terra firma, and streaking ahead like a bullet train. This sextet represents innovation at its best, beyond neo-bop or mainstream jazz, playing a fantastic new music that seeks out far-reaching horizons like few groups ever attain. Welcome to Life and South should be in every collection of those who appreciate great modern music.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos