July 2016: Binker & Moses interview for "Jazz Standard" at "Love Supreme Festival"
April 2016: Binker & Moses interview at the "Jazz FM awards"
October 2015: Binker & Moses acceptance speech at the MOBO awards
“Well, I first met Moses quite a while ago. I think through Abram Wilson and we became friends from the get go. Since then we’ve played in a number of groups together, most consistently Zara McFarlane’s band. So we’ve been on the road with Zara quite a bit the last few years which has given Moses and I a lot of time to experiment between soundcheck and performance. So we’d often play duo when we had that moment free and practise certain things. Over time the ideas we practised, evolved and moulded into things, things that we developed into complete pieces of music. We then decided we should start doing duo performances to see if we could make sense of it in a performance context. We did that for a while, deemed it as a good idea, then a short while later Gearbox Records approached us with the idea of making an album after they heard some demos we recorded and put online.
“The tunes started as simple ideas. Perhaps a certain riff, scale or rhythmic pattern and over time they developed into what you hear on the album now. We added and subtracted a lot of things to and from them.They’re not compositions as such, but templates for improvisation we constructed over time. The core idea for a particular tune would be the same from performance to performance to recording, but the treatment of the idea changes the more we get familiar with it. We explore it, then the next time we perform we pick up from where we left off, we don’t start afresh again. So the pieces are never the same. The recording is only a documentation of where we were at that point in time in dealing and evolving with those particular pieces. If you heard us play them now you’ll see they’ve changed slightly again. All jazz is like that to an extent, but that aspect is one of the main focuses with our ensemble. “Our ‘compositional’ process was to agree on ideas and sounds, rhythms and modes and go somewhere with them.
“Interstellar Space was a definite influence for me personally. There’s only one track on the album which I would say resembles the aesthetic nature of the music on Interstellar, but it was an inspiration for me throughout the whole thing. Another was Charles Lloyd’s recordings of just saxophone, drums and percussion. Some of my favourite saxophonists and drummers play duo at certain points in their more intense numbers. Branford Marsalis and Kenny Garrett both did it with Tain [Jeff chiefTain Watts] at certain points and of course that whole thing started with Coltrane and Elvin. Both myself and Moses love what they all do.
“It’s probably the freest thing I’ve recorded in a way. But I personally consider it to be a lot less free than what I think people will make of it. There’s a lot of tonality (more accurately modality) on the record and rhythmically I think it’s accessible too, but it has that element of forcing people to listen because of the instrumentation.There are two tracks (I think the last on each side) that I would have to describe as free. I don’t want to get too twat-ish with my words & start justifying how in my mind those two tracks aren’t really free.The fact is that regardless of how Moses and I were thinking on those two tracks it will hit the ear of the listener as being free.
“It was very challenging. Simple in the sense that we knew what we wanted to do and how it should sound, but challenging in the same way that the gigs we do are challenging, meaning we want it to sound like music and not two musicians practising and that’s harder given the instrumentation. It helps that Moses and I are on the same page. If we weren’t it would be an utter nightmare. I think in this circumstance the musicians have to be practically custom-made for each other. In regards to liberation I’d say we started this ensemble for liberation. In my mind it’s a mild rebellion against jazz which is over composed with perhaps one or two too many instruments. So we said: ‘We’ll practically get rid of all the instruments and strip it down and improvise rather than compose.’ The stripped down nature of it is one of the main attractions for us. Communication is very different when it’s just between two people. If I remember correctly JEEP stands for “just enough essential parts”. Now Jeeps can be as ugly as fuck, but they get the job done and they can withstand anything. In composition class I learnt god knows how many ways to make a piece of music more beautiful with the use of multiple instruments, voicings, certain harmonies etc but for whatever reason simplicity, strip down and ugliness have found me, so perhaps the music or ensemble is a musical equivalent of a Jeep.”
(Interview: Stephen Graham)
While a meteor flashed across the skies of England at the weekend a “fire in the sky” of a different dimension entirely was well underway at the Purcell Room, where the Nu Civilisaton Orchestra presented Firebird, a Stravinsky-Parker Sound Clash. An enlightened concept of lateral thinking, the idea was to make links between the bebop years and the classical composer of the time who most understood the intentions and concepts of Charlie Parker and the bop pioneers, although soundclash also suggests a Jamaican twist.
The main focus of the evening was in the second half with the performance of Ebony Concerto, Stravinsky’s work commissioned by Woody Herman in 1946. The evening also featured new work, most notably Binker Golding’s Dionysian suite ‘The Maenads’, Peter Edwards’ ‘Blues Ostinata’ and Edwards’ arrangement of Steve Williamson’s ‘How High The Bird’, itself a variant on ‘How High The Moon’, with a MBASE-like duelling two-tenor twist, which was one of the best things about this show. Zem Audu, one of the sparring tenorists, back from the States where he has been touring with the Skatalites, and newcomer Will Gibson showed their mettle. The concert lacked a bit of pace at times, but highlights outweighed the brief duller moments and Edwards conducted confidently enough and his piano contributions added a zest to the big band, yet Golding had the swagger to bring the evening alive. Zem Audu’s solo on Joe Henderson’s ‘Inner Urge’ hit the ground running and the 18-piece orchestra showed considerable potential.
– Stephen Graham
Nu Civilisation Orchestra at the Purcell Room: Stravinsky's Ebony concerto (conducted by Golding) and The Maenads, composed & conducted by Binker Golding.
Reviewed by Sebastian Scotney for London Jazz Blog
This was an enthusiastically attended evening of lively, varied, expertly played contemporary big band music. It went under various confusing names, such as "Music Nation Weekend at the South Bank Centre," which as far as I could work out was a series of unrelated and separately ticketed gigs. It was also called "Firebird - A Stravinsky-Parker Soundclash", where any trace of Stravinsky's ballet was, er, singularly absent. But, since one goes to an event like this in order to respond to the music itself rather than the descriptions of it, all that really doesn't matter much.
Words don't help, then, but Ben Amure's two pictures here do tell the story of last night rather well. Bassist Gary Crosby, who founded the orchestra, has now yielded the musical direction to two highly capable and talented bandleaders/ arrangers/ conductors with well-contrasted personalities, Peter Edwards and Binker Golding.
The pair, who also collaborate seamlessly and supportively as a team - that's jazz, it can't work any other way - take the upfront role very differently. Golding wears his heart more on his sleeve, the band responds to his passionate gestures by playing with blazing commitment. His music is vivid, sculpted, on fire. Edwards (below)is a quieter but at the same time perhaps the more commanding presence, rooted in the tradition, living it, bringing it to life, right here right now, and consciously extending it, with elegantly crafted, highly melodic, instantly appealing homages to, for example,Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Bobby Timmons
The most ambitious piece was a four-movement suite composed by Golding entitled The Maenads. In the outer movements the scoring is deliberately vivid and violent in intent, with rasping, snarling brass. By way of complete contrast, the third section "Come to the Mountain" cycled a calming four-bar Radiohead-ish phrase. The suite deserves more frequent outings. I didn't see a single audience member bothering to sink the head into the programme to find out what the titles were all about. And that's for a simple reason: when the music is this strong, the narrative lines so energetic, it speaks for itself.
There were fine individual contributions from members of the orchestra throughout the evening.Theon Cross nailed the lopsided grooves on tuba with precision and humour. Drummer Andy Chapman was flawless. On trumpet Mark Perry took his moments to shine. Will Gibson's alto sax solos took the listener on a fascinating journey every time, and he clearly had the tricky idiom and metres of Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto completely under his fingers. The trumpet section of this band play across, as a real section. The lower brass give wonderful colour.
As our Friday columnist Jack Davies wrote last October, there is amazing life and energy in young big bands in the UK. Last night proved it: Nu Civilisation Orchestra are part of something big.
- Sebastian Scotney