Positive Catastrophe is the musical brainchild of Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet) and Abraham Gomez-Delgado (percussion). Taylor is one of the most impressive of the latest crop of up and coming jazz musicians and Abraham has long been expanding the boundaries of Latin-based music and jazz. Together they have come up with Positive Catastrophe: a trans-idiomatic ten-piece little big band that successfully connects the dots between Sun Ra and Eddie Palmieri and beyond!
A 10 piece strong 'little big band', Positive Catastrophe was founded in 2007 by cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum and percussionist/vocalist/composer Abraham Gomez-Delgado. The group enlists a bevy of New York’s most adventurous jazz and salsa musicians, all of whom are composers and leaders in their own right. The full line up is: Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn, co-leader), Abraham Gomez-Delgado (vocals, percussion, co-leader), Jen Shyu (vocals, erhu), Matt Bauder (tenor sax, clarinets), Michael Attias (baritone sax), Mark Taylor (french horn), Reut Regev (trombone), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Alvaro Benavides (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums). The exceptional musicianship of all of these players, and their fluidity in multiple genres, allows them to create a unique instrumentation that hints at the traditional jazz and salsa big bands with individuality. However, Positive Catastrophe still manages to seamlessly include french horn, erhu, and rock guitar, in addition to a pair of dramatic vocalists that are comfortable singing in three languages. Positive Catastrophe creates a truly boundary-crossing kind of new music.
Born in Baltimore, Md. and raised in Brookline, Mass., Taylor Ho Bynum is one of jazz’s most adventurous brass players, a master of the cornet and various horns, as well as a composer, bandleader, and interdisciplinary collaborator with artists in dance, film, and theater. In addition to Positive Catastrophe, he leads his Trio, his Sextet, the eight-piece ensemble SpiderMonkey Strings, and a variety of collaborative projects. He is the cofounder of the respected label Firehouse 12 Records, and a dogged supporter of avant-garde patriarch Anthony Braxton, with whom he’s collaborated in contexts ranging from duo to orchestra across more than a dozen recordings. Bynum also maintains ongoing collaborations with such artists as Bill Lowe, Jason Kao Hwang, Joe Morris, Mary Halvorson, and the Fully Celebrated Orchestra, among many others, and is featured on more than 60 CDs. Bynum is also deeply involved with the arts community as an educator, writer, organizer, and producer.
Abraham Gomez-Delgado was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a Peruvian father and a Puerto Rican mother. In many ways his musical vision was shaped by the impact of his family relocating to Massachusetts in 1979. The jarring nature of that sudden life transition has served as a provocative muse ever since. His music has been shaped by the unexpected confluence of salsa, Peruvian huayno, Bach, disco, Kraftwerk, Puerto Rican roots music, early hip-hop, heavy metal and classic rock. While an art-school student in Boston in the early 1990s, Gomez-Delgado started the Latin nowave salsa rock band Jayuya. This was Gomez-Delgado's first aural canvas exploring the hybrid reality that he and so many other Latino immigrants had experienced, with themes that often spoke of rejection by both “the American establishment” and “the traditional Latin establishment.” In 1997, Jayuya released its self-titled debut recording, earning “World Music Group of the Year” at The Boston Music Awards. From 1998 to the present, Gomez-Delgado has composed music for his Latin big band, Zemog El Gallo Bueno.
Tight ensemble riffing from a horn section teetering on the verge of dischord provides the springboard for this study in contrasts, as James Bond on a bender guitar lines and percolating percussion seem to add a satirical, almost loungey touch while freewheeling brass solos take the track further into the outer limits. [Tempo: Up-tempo]
An angular conversation between baritone sax and cornet picks up speed as the rest of the band wanders in and works things up to a feverish pitch. Wordless vocals and meowing guitars engage in another offbeat one-on-one exchange to close things out. [Tempo: Mid-tempo]
Low-toned, elegiac brass introduces a moody, atmospheric track led by a light-voiced female vocalist’s melodically adventurous peregrinations. [Tempo: no fixed tempo]
Polyrhythms rule with an almost wanton flair, as staccato horn parts dance in, and around, a syncopated rhythm section. Airy female vocals wander in from someplace otherworldly, before a male voice joins and begins edging things towards a Latin direction. [Lyrics by Joseph Conrad, translated to Spanish by Abraham Gomez-Delgado] [Tempo: Mid-tempo]
Imagine a cubist reduction of a New Orleans brass band and you’ll have a rough idea of where the first half of this track is coming from. The second part finds low-key vocals changing things up while a rising tide of horns gradually amps up the intensity. [Lyrics by David Mitchell] [Tempo: no fixed tempo]
An accordion solo that quickly goes from plaintive to primal (with echoes of the Middle East) is the intro to a track where anxious, cartoony horn section interjections give way to increasingly claustrophobic cornet cries. Eventually, the horns move from assaultive to consonant on their strange journey. [Tempo: Mid-tempo]
Literally explosive, atonal swatches of sound build up from a low throb to an almost invasive presence somewhere between armies in pitched battle and an alien attack from above. [Tempo: Mid-tempo]
What starts out as a sort of funhouse mirror image of conventional big-band dynamics gradually morphs into a braying, bleating, blowout, in both the figurative and literal senses. [Tempo: Mid-tempo]
An insistent, uptempo groove pushes along some sassy brass figures, and things take a definitively whimsical but undeniably frenetic turn when wordless vocals verging on animal noises enter into the fray, edging the intensity level upwards. [Tempo: Up-tempo]
An angular conversation between baritone sax and cornet picks up speed, as the rest of the band wanders in and works things up to a feverish pitch. Wordless vocals and meowing guitars engage in another offbeat one-on-one exchange to close things out. [Tempo: Mid-tempo]