The word from Moses
When I saw Moses Boyd playing with Soweto Kinch in Berlin last year, I was knocked out. Here was a young drummer with the kind of litheness and sense of “lift” that I loved in the playing of Billy Higgins and Frank Butler. And of Tony Williams, who turns out to have been Boyd’s hero as well as mine.
Wrists are important to a drummer, and sometimes you only need to see the way they work to tell how good he or she is. A drummer with good wrists is more likely to draw the sound out of the drums and cymbals, rather than bashing it into them. Moses Boyd has very fine wrist-articulation, which gives him a lovely touch and the ability to produce a finely graded set of tones. It also helps him achieve a fantastic fluidity in his playing, whether it’s swing or eights or free. I feel I could watch him through soundproof glass and know that he’s an ace.
Boyd is from South London, and so is Binker Golding, the tenor saxophonist with whom he’s just made a duo album. It’s called Dem Ones, and it’s on the Gearbox label, which specialises in vinyl-only recordings made in a North London studio on equipment manufactured by companies like Studer, Westrex and Telefunken — the sort of names you used to see on the back of albums on the Contemporary label, whose owner was proud of the sound quality of his releases. “No editing, overdubbing or mixing” is what it says on the sleeve, and the process of recording direct to two-track tape and cutting the master directly from the result certainly helps preserve a sense of intimacy and immediacy.
Binker and Moses (which is how they bill themselves) are 29 and 23 years old respectively. They’ve played together for some time in a variety of contexts, and their improvised interplay is marked by both familiarity and adventurousness. Golding has a very nice sound: tough but warm. If you needed to locate his approach, you might place him somewhere between George Coleman and Sam Rivers. He plays a lot of notes but doesn’t waste any of them. He and Boyd are in each other’s pockets all the way, whether the music is thunderous or gentle.
Here, to give you a taste, are three tracks from Dem Ones: “Man Like GP”, “Black Ave Maria” and “No Long Tings”. And here’s a piece from Exodus, another of Boyd’s projects, again with Golding plus Theon Cross on tuba and Artie Zaits on guitar. It’s in a different direction. I’m guessing that he’s got a few of those, and that they’ll all be worth following.
* The photograph of Moses Boyd was taken by Sam Mardon, who also shot the video for “Man Like GP”. Here’s where to find Gearbox Records, who also have vinyl albums by Tubby Hayes and Joe Harriott: http://www.gearboxrecords.com.
Love to buy this but I don’t have a turntable. Shame.
Impressive indeed and if it looks that relaxed and confident, it usually diguises how many days and years of practice and slog must have gone before. Despite their youth.
Plus, I’m sucker for any mention of Frank Butler and the sight of a working reel to reel tape deck. I can smell the technology.
Absolutely right about drummers and wrists (my daughter’s a drummer). Another local one with that ability is the great Mark Mondesir.
Keen anticipation followed by disappointmnet, all in the space of a couple of hours. Having been told that Moses and Binker were playing at Ray’s Jazz at Foyles later this month, I headed straight for Charing Cross Road to book my place. Only to be advised on arrival that the gig had been cancelled. What a drag. Great album though – and I hope to see them live very soon!