Binker and Moses – ‘Alive in the East?’ (Album Review)

Tenor Saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd are part of the exciting young London jazz scene that has been taking the genre by storm lately with projects by artists such as Nubya Garcia, Yazz Ahmed and Shabaka Hutchings. Alive in the East?, which was recorded live in June 2017, is the duo’s third album together. Binker and Moses are joined by fellow members of the London scene Yussef Dayes (drums), Tori Handsley (harp), Byron Wallen (trumpet) and free-jazz stalwart Evan Parker (tenor and soprano sax). The result of this combination is 47 minutes of enthralling, vigorous jazz.

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Binker and Moses have somehow managed to combine elements from both the freer and more rhythmically-centered portions of jazz to create a truly impressive recording. The performance is often wild and exploratory – the horns play with fire. Low-key moments on Alive in the East? are rare, and even within those moments, like during the ghastly, languid notes of the horns on “The Discovery of Human Flesh”, there is a quiet intensity to the music. Throughout the album, Boyd, at times aided by the extremely talented Dayes, is an anchor that never loses its rhythmic ingenuity, frequently producing patterns that will make listeners’ head nod.

Alive in the East? opens up with “The Birth of Light”, an outstanding drum duet that is sure to move people out of their seats, which is immediately followed by the powerful “How Land Learnt to Be.” On “How Land Learnt to Be”, saxophones buzz around to create a constantly moving wall of sound as the harp is used percussively, adding another layer of rhythm to the infectious drumming. “Children of the Ultra Blacks” is a more spacious number, but equally as impressive. Rapid drumming begins the tune as the harp crashes in the background and transitions into resting between its dark chords as the horns come in. The trumpet takes the first solo, which is surrounded by a beautifully eerie atmosphere that eventually morphs into a brilliant chaos as the horns explode with energy in the song’s final third.

Alive in the East? is the type of record that could bridge the gap for many jazz and non-jazz fans. The aggressive skronk of its horns may appeal to fans of the avant-garde, while the excellent rhythms crafted by the drummers could draw in fans of more groove-based genres, such as afro-beat. The recording feels very organic – there is no doubting the chemistry between the musicians here and the excitement of the crowd can be heard with every cheer. After listening to Alive in the East?, it’s clear that anyone who has the chance to see Binker and Moses live should do so immediately.

Alive in the East? the latest album by Binker and Moses, is out now on Gearbox Records and can be purchased on Bandcamp.

Binker Golding (Tenor Sax)
Moses Boyd (Drums)

Yussef Dayes (Drums)
Tori Handsley (Harp)
Evan Parker (Tenor and Soprano Sax)
Byron Wallen (Trumpet)