The album's songs and extended compositions explore layers of rhythmic and harmonic complexity and adapt elements from world music traditions, including West African rhythms and Indian raga (modes) and tala (time cycles). Bindman writes of the polyphony in the album/song title, improvisational voices, and compositional forms:
In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one hears a polyphony of multiple languages, children playing, airplanes, traffic, music, and birds singing. I composed most of the music on this recording after moving to the Sunset Park neighborhood in 2006. The sounds are inspired by dreams and images of life and were only quantified during the notation process. In this music we offer paths to wander, to dance, to follow threads of imagination..."
Among the rhythmic features, two compositions integrate reductions, derived from ancient Indian tirripugar tala, in which time cycles reflect poetic phrasing, here getting progressively faster over a given framework in asymmetrical groupings of beats. Through this and other adaptations to jazz/contemporary music, and the musical interactions that develop, the ensemble offers expanded ways of playing over time. The Sunset image on the CD cover, by Laura Lambie Wallace, has many layers of color that mirror the underlying layers in the music.
Shape One" opens the album with a theme and harmonic progression in a fast 15 beat cycle; Long Line Home" is a meditation on memory, loss, and place; the title track Sunset Park Polyphony" explores multiple speeds of seven, with themes rising from the Pantuvarali raga, a Hindu devotional modality; Robeson House Echoes" has juxtaposed tonalities unfolding in no n-metric and metric time; the six-part Landings Suite" follows the epic journey of a fictional adventurer turned environmentalist and teacher: in The Transient," independent melody lines diverge and converge; Icarus Flies Towards the Sun and Returns" is a dirge in canon form; Invisible Dance" opens with drum calls and responses from the Ewe people of Ghana and has multiple simultaneous themes; Recurring Dream," set over a jazz/reggae rhythm, incorporates a bell pattern from the Fon people of Togo and Benin; the sparse Singing Bird Melody" knits together sections of the suite; in the ballad Unspoken melodies moving in counterpoint; RH Reprise" grooves in 6½ beats.
Bassist Wes Brown, drummer Royal Hartigan, and Bindman met at Wesleyan University in the early 1980s. They have played together in the group Juba, the West African/jazz group Talking Drums (founded by Abraham Adzenyah, celebrating 25-year reissue of Some Day Catch Some Day Down on Innova), Fred Ho's Afro Asian Music Ensemble, and Royal Hartigan's Blood Drum Spirit, joined by pianist Art Hirahara. Bindman formed his sextet in 2008; Reut Regev and Frank London are the ensemble's newest members.
This album follows David Bindman's four recordings as a leader or co-leader, including the Brooklyn Sax Quartet's acclaimed CDs The Way of the Saxophone (Innova) and Far Side of Here (Omnitone), and numerous recordings as a side-person.
CD and downloads are available from CD Baby and Amazon, and downloads from iTunes. Copies also available at Downtown Music Gallery in NYC.