Binker and Moses ‘Journey To The Mountain Of Forever’ 2LP/2CD/DIG (Gearbox) 4/5

Binker Goulding and Moses Boyd burst onto the jazz scene in 2015 with their debut album Dem Ones (Gearbox Records). This exciting young saxophone and drums duo hail from either side of the river Thames. Having met eight years ago, the duo toured extensively as part of Zara McFarlane’s band, and it was during the on-stage sound checks with McFarlane that Binker and Moses started developing their duo improvisations, eventually bringing the idea of recording them to the attention of Gearbox Records, the vinyl-led label and vinyl mastering studio.

The release of “Dem Ones” earned the duo a string of awards including Best Jazz Act at the 2015 MOBO awards, and two wins at the Jazz FM Awards 2016. The album showed much promise, with an energy and freshness to it that captured the duo’s improvisations extremely well.

“Journey To The Mountain Of Forever” has lost none of the previous release’s exuberance and energy, but there is an added maturity to this, their second album. There is a more varied musical approach to this session, with a wonderful inventiveness and spirit that harks back to the heady days of Coltrane’s musical explorations, whilst at the same time brimming with new life and confidence, undoubtedly reaching out to old and new jazz audiences alike.

A double album, record one is a duo set, whilst record two expands outwards with special guests including legendary saxophonist Evan Parker and trumpeter Byron Wallen. Also featured are Tori Handsley on harp, Sarathy Korwar on tabla, and Yussef Dayes on drums.

The album opener “Departure” is a stunning piece of music. Displaying all of the duo’s skill and prowess, it is rich in melody, whilst still retaining its improvisational qualities. Throughout this set the interplay and understanding between the two musicians is exemplary, and the groovier, funkier “Intoxication from the Jahvmonishi Leaves” has an infectious feel to it that is impossible to ignore. The creativity is quite startling at times, and there is happily no let-up from the duo as they continue to impress, especially on the tracks “The Shaman’s Chant” and “Leaving The Now Behind”.

The second set is a little more exploratory and certainly no less expressive. Some of the collaborations however, work better than others. “The Valley of The Ultra Blacks” floats with excessive energy as the drums set the scene for some burning rhythms and wildly beautiful improv. There’s a gorgeous graceful air to “Gifts from the vibrations of light”, the harp playing being particularly worthy of note. “Ritual of the root” has an almost trad feel to it to begin with, it’s bluesy overtones soon shaken to the core by the sax and trumpet duelling. “Echoes From The Other Side” is also a fabulous piece, with its spiritual atmosphere one to savour.

Complete with resplendent sleeve artwork, reminiscent of the late 60’s/ early 70’s Jazz/rock fusion era, this is definitely an album that does more than laying down a marker for Binker and Moses, it shows just how seriously good this duo are, and how much more they still have to offer. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

Mike Gates