Taylor Ho Bynum’s Navigation: An album with the scope of a novel
by Richard Brody
For all their sonic invention and rhythmic charge, the performances of “Navigation” have an essentially narrative feel, as if the combinations and improvisations reflected the musicians’ personal relations and dialectical negotiations. The recording conveys a sense not of harmonic and melodic abstractions but of mini-events that coalesce into a drama which, thanks to Bynum’s alluring compositions and inspiring leadership, isn’t just that of musicians at work; it’s the entire tradition, casting its own challenging spotlight on them as they create, knowingly, humbly, but freely and proudly. “Navigation” tells a very big story—and captures a big swath of the modern musician’s life—in its wise and quiet way.