In concert – Binker Golding @ The Forge

Binker Golding (saxophone)

The Forge, Camden, London
Thursday11 May 2023

Reviewed by John Earls. Picture (c) John Earls

I once spoke to jazz saxophonist Binker Golding last year just after he had performed a blistering set at London’s Rough Trade East, promoting his excellent Feeding the Machine album with drummer Moses Boyd (very different but exciting musical fare). I told him I’d seen him at Ronnie Scott’s (with a quintet doing some new tunes for a forthcoming album) just as we were coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Oh?” he said, “It was all right, yeah?” I assured him it was. But was quite surprised he felt he had to ask.

This gig at The Forge in Camden with a superb seven piece band was testimony to what a great foundation that Ronnie’s gig was. Right from the off this outfit grabbed the evening and ripped up a storm.

The set mostly comprised of material from last year’s wonderful (and superbly titled) album Dream Like a Dogwood Wild Boy. It’s a great collection of tunes traversing across jazz, Americana, country and blues.

Opening with (Take Me To The) Wide Open Lows we get the mix of melody and solo virtuosity that is a feature throughout the evening whereby the band including Benet McLean (violin), Billy Adamson (guitars) and Daniel Casimir (bass) get to show what they can do collectively and individually. Philip Achille (harmonica) was a particular stand out for taking his instrument to places you didn’t know it could go. 

I have to confess I was more than a little disappointed when I found out that Sarah Tandy and Sam Jones were not going to be performing (as originally advertised). Tandy’s thrilling piano and Jones’ relaxed but sharp drumming – both of which are not only a feature of the album but were a considerable part of a performance at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room in November 2022 for the London Jazz Festival – were something I was particularly looking forward to.

However, Deschanel Gordon – on organ rather than piano – and Zoe Pascal on drums offered a different but equally compelling dimension to the proceedings.

All Out Of Fairy Tales was a brilliant closer (as it is on the album). A beautifully wistful number.

I love the musicians that Binker Golding puts around him, what he does with them and what he lets them do. They seem to love it too.

Whether he thinks it or not (we didn’t get the chance to speak afterwards this time) this concert was a stunning display of what an assured composer, performer and band leader Binker Golding is. And if he’s reading this, it was more than all right.

John Earls is Director of Research at Unite the Union and tweets at @john_earls

You can listen to the Binker Golding album on Spotify below:

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