After the raw, experimental Ex Nihilo (2019), recorded with pianist Elliot Galvin, and his free-form duo recordings with drummer Moses Boyd, recorded as Binker and Moses, Abstractions of Reality Past And Incredible Feathers will come as something of a surprise. The most obvious reference point is perhaps the early 1960s recording of Sonny Rollins, although there are hints of Coltrane’s classic quartet too, and even the early 1970s recordings of pianist McCoy Tyner.
The last few years have seen North London-based Golding trying to push the boundaries of modern jazz; Binker & Moses crossed over into the ‘urban’ scene, winning awards and new audiences along the way, whilst never losing touch with his grounding in avant-garde, improvised music. So why look back now? “It’s about experience I had throughout my teenage years and twenties,” the saxophonist reveals. “It’s about remembering, forgetting, thinking you’ve forgotten and remembering again.”
He’s accompanied by a fabulous band, comprised of Joe Armon-Jones, founding member of the Ezra Collective, on piano, Daniel Casimir on bass (Camilla George) and Sam Jones (Zara McFarlane) on drums.
The album begins with the delightful I Forgot Santa Monica. It open with a great intro by bass player, Daniel Casimir, before slipping into an easy groove, with rolling piano by Armon-Jones and some delightful drumming by Jones. Golding’s playing and tone is superb, as he produces a solo of finest quality. Exquisite She-Green is built around a simple saxophone riff from leader that gradually evolves. Jones and Armon-Jones again impress, the latter producing a steady flow of ideas beneath the beat as the bandleader stretches out, his solo building steadily. One of the album’s highlights, in my view.
Skinned Alive, Tasting Blood sounds like the wrong title for the tune that follows, which has more of an early 1970s, McCoy Tyner vibe – which is no bad thing. Golding plays with a softer tone here, and there’s some delightful Elvin-like percussion from San Jones. ..And I Like Your Feathers is again built around a simple riff from Golding, but gradually reveals new layers. It also features a fine bass solo by Daniel Casimir.
You, That Place, That Time almost sounds like a lost theme to a 70s TV show. There’s a warm familiarity to the tune, which is just gorgeous. Strange–Beautiful Remembered has more a Rollins feel, and there’s some lovely interplay with pianist Joe Armon-Jones, who impresses throughout. The album comes to a close with the more upbeat Fluoresecent Black which showcases what a fine group Golding has assembled for this project, and leaves the listener wanting to hear more.
Listen to You, That Place, That Time here:
I have always enjoyed Binker and Moses in small doses; whilst I found the vibrancy and energy of the band to be exciting, it was a little two-dimensional, if you like, to hold my attention for a prolonged period. Abstractions Of Reality Past, however, is one of my albums of the year, a sheer delight from start to finish. Golding is too restless to stop here for long, so make the most of it while you can. The album was recorded at Abbey Road, for the excellent Gearbox Records, and features some superb cover art by photographer Carl Hyde.