Until a few days ago composer, saxophonist and flutist Anna Webber’s output had inexplicably slipped through the claws of this writer, now looking to improve his wisdom after getting acquainted with Binary. It’s the second chapter for the Simple Trio, which features Webber, pianist Matt Mitchell and percussionist John Hollenbeck. The essential constitution comes from internet findings (IP addresses, YouTube videos and so forth) transformed into scores allowing a considerable measure of individual translation.
It’s perhaps a bit ironic that such a type of motivation – originating from a source of mental obnubilation, the most powerful instrument of mass control – has engendered pieces that, on the contrary, are endowed with eloquent obstination but also possess a “logical sensuality” of sorts. This is certainly a merit attributable to the players. As the leader herself writes, “John and Matt are fantastic to compose for and improvise with because they have the ability to play challenging music in a way that feels relaxed and natural.” No need to add to this sentence, ideally justifying my instant digging of the album. Without exaggerating, I don’t recall being so immediately interested in accurately processing a front-edge release since the times of my first encounters with Doctor Nerve, another ensemble eating irregular meters for breakfast.
The actual tendencies of these lyrically intricate, sometimes mildly obsessive interactions don’t include ideologic bric-a-brac and gratuitous virtuosity: technique docilely stays at the service of the collective effort, never becoming a pretext for egomaniacal exhibitions. The anatomic diversity of the compositional cells warrants constant changes in density of events and rhythmic development. However, the impressive fluidity conveyed by the trio gives hope that one day – when the human brain will finally decide to evolve a tiny bit – people will consider bewildering progressions over unusual tempos as organic matters, not something “disturbing” for their binary (no pun intended) and ternary comfort. Deprived of any rhetorical surplus, this set is incisive and uplifting; it forces to think attentively, perceive differently, disjoin body and mind while maintaining an active awareness. At the moment, nothing more is necessary here.