On Monday, Sept. 29, Taylor Ho Bynum and Mark Dresser played a duet in the McKinney Theatre to an intimate crowd of students and locals. Nearing the end of his 1,800 mile bicycle tour, Bynum pedaled himself to this performance. Bynum explained his motives behind his extended bike ride by referring to it as a “composition journey.”
“To sum it up, this bike ride has become a reminder to live in the moment, to be present, and to experience something real. Biking up a big hill is a real experience,” Bynum said after the opening song.
“Hector,” Bynum’s bike, has remained his only method of transportation throughout the entire trip. Bynum has a website where he has been writing personal entries for his voyage.
In an entry from Day 26, at 6:30 p.m. in San Simeon State Park, Bynum wrote, “The magical rides tend to happen in the early morning. I left the campground at 6:30 a.m. and had several hours almost to myself on the road through Big Sur’s southern coast. Tendrils of light from the rising sun making streaks through the light fog, cliffs dropping into the ocean, hard climbs on the yo-yoing road made [the trip] worth it by the beauty at each turn.”
The second song, “Zod,” was dramatic and theatrical. Bynum dressed his cornet in a fedora hat to create a muffled sound. The personified instrument made sounds that reminded music student Carrie Carbonneau of a “scary Disney cartoon.”
Bynum explained to his audience how he is frequently asked what his “ideal audience” would be. His response was not mainstream or ordinary.
“Expecting gets in the way. It is better to be free of preconception,” the cornetist said with sensibility.
The third piece was a cover of “Coming On” by Bobby Bradford, a trumpeter, cornetist, bandleader, and composer. Bradford was an acclaimed musician known for his work with the Ornette Coleman Quartet, and was a mentor to Dresser when he was only 19-years-old.
The next song was an original from Bynum titled, “To Wait.” Urban soundscapes filled the theatre while the audience stared, barely blinking.
“Coyote” was a song also written by Dresser that was inspired by his unusual conversation with his coyote friends off in the distance. The song was animated and if the crowd closed their eyes they could have envisioned a conversation of their own.
The final piece sounded poetic and royal. Visions of crystal decanters, silk tablecloths, and rose centerpieces poured out from the bass and cornet during this finale.
“I used to think that composing was like jumping off a cliff. But I realized it is more like a big climb. When you’re done, you bring your music to musicians, then its all downhill. Jumping off a cliff is too easy,” he said.