Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Boykin Bares His Bones and Shows His Chops

Saxophonist David Boykin’s musical lineage runs deep through the city of Chicago.  It was here, under the direction of jazz greats like Jimmy Ellis and Phil Cohran, that Boykin developed a penchant for the avant-garde and laid the groundwork for his ongoing project, Sonic Healing Ministries. Now Boykin is back with a trio of musicians and a new album recorded live on the city’s Southside.

“Live at the Dorchester Projects” is a departure from Boykin’s earlier freeform work with Sonic Healing Ministries.  Here, we find structure in place of chaos - melody in place of ambiance. The album is deeply rooted in the bebop tradition and sounds like something akin to John Coltrane.

Ever reverent to the old school, “Dorchester Projects” manages to sound fresh thanks in large part to Boykin’s generous improvisations.  The trio’s 16-year-old drummer, James Woodley, lends the album a youthful energy.  While Woodley’s technique is well balanced by the restraint of bassist Alexis Wing, a classically trained guitarist. Overall, the album exudes the quiet confidence of a composer who knows his craft and of musicians who know their instruments.

It’s difficult to discuss this album without also discussing the space in which it was conceived. The Dorchester Projects are an artistic co-op owned and operated by art director, Theaster Gates, in the Grand Crossing neighborhood.  It is Gates hope that these spaces, which he has developed all over the Midwest, will serve as  “artistic-incubators” for neighborhoods that have been culturally neglected for some time.

David Boykin was the first artist in residence at Dorchester Projects. This album is the culmination of the time he spent there. In "Live at the Dorchester Projects," it's not hard to imagine we are hearing the start of a Rust Belt Renaissance.

David Boykin will be playing live at Hyde Park Records on April 2, 2013. Admission is free. "Live at the Dorchester Projects is available for purchase on LP and CD now at Hyde Park Records.

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