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Album Review

New York composer Elliott Sharp was in the East Village café, Binibon, the night in 1981 when paroled murderer and best-selling author Jack Henry Abbott, a protégé of Norman Mailer's, knifed a waiter to death, and this music theater piece describes the events of that night. In topic and tone Sharp's hour-long work Binibon resembles John Moran's docu-opera The Manson Family in its unflinching look at a celebrity-related crime. With a libretto by Jack Womack, who also serves as the narrator, it is structured like a radio play, but it was created to be theatrically performed. Using spoken text, various eyewitnesses, and Abbott himself to set the scene and describe the murder, it is underscored by a dark, dramatically vivid, heavily processed instrumental commentary. Sharp performs all the instrumental parts (guitars, saxophones, bass synthesizers, clarinets, percussion, drum, and sample programming) and gives the lurid events a stark, dramatic shape through the skillful manipulation and integration of his many sound sources; although there is virtually no singing, Sharp is clearly a composer who knows how to tell a story with music. The very fine cast of actors creates an engaging and appealing ensemble, even though the story they tell is grim. The recording was made shortly after the work's 2009 stage premiere at The Kitchen. Binibon should be of strong interest to fans of experimental developments in music theater.


Born: 01 March 1951 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Elliott Sharp began playing the piano at six. According to Sharp, he was performing concerts by age eight. Sharp claims that his parents wanted him to be both a concert pianist and a scientist. He gave up piano, first in favor of the clarinet and then the guitar. His interest in science led him to build his own effects boxes for the instrument. He became intrigued with all types of experimental music, from contemporary classical to free jazz and sophisticated rock. Sharp studied anthropology at Cornell,...
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Binibon, Elliott Sharp
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