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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: Alexander Hawkins: Step Wide, Step Deep

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You don't need to spend long in the company of pianist Alexander Hawkins to realize that his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz encompasses everything from Duke Ellington to the avant-garde. That's as true of recordings as it is in person, and amply demonstrated on Step Wide, Step Deep, where the moods range from lazy Sunday afternoon to bristling polyphony. Even though the line up has changed since the excellent All There Ever Out (Babel Label, 2012), the combination of fierce musical intelligence and unfettered creativity remains the same. Hawkins has assembled a unit that's comfortable across multiple genres. Guitarist ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Alexander Hawkins: Step Wide, Step Deep

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The effortless and precocious ability shown by British pianist Alexander Hawkins to step between the jazz tradition and music more associated with free improv makes for a heady brew on this thrilling collection. While it is arguable that the genres are far from mutually exclusive the ability to make accessible music from that which is often viewed as 'difficult' is rare and deserves to be better known outside of his homeland. This album retains only guitarist Otto Fischer from the previous Ensemble release, 2012's All There, Ever Out, the changes apparently forced by the geographical relocation of drummer ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: Step Wide, Step Deep

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British composer, pianist Alexander Hawkins possesses the goods to be a world-beater in avant-jazz circles. He's collaborated with legendary drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo (Brotherhood of Breath) and co-leads the Convergence Quartet amid his concurrent 2014 solo piano release Song Singular and other notable endeavors for this UK-based record label. Hawkins' compositional prowess takes center-stage on this high-flying sojourn, showcasing a superfine band that communicates extraordinary synergy, coupled with towering solo spots and a penchant for zooming in for the kill, while imparting a cavalcade of paradigm shifts. The opening extended piece “Step Wide, Step Deep," sets the stage for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: Step Wide, Step Deep

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As he did on his fine solo piano release Song Singular (Babel, 2014), Alexander Hawkins takes his newly formed ensemble on a path that blurs the perceptions of composition and free improvisation. Step Wide, Step Deep floats free of implications and becomes its own entity. The ensemble establishes a rich and unique setting, sometimes disquieting, sometimes melodic but in all cases providing a dialog that resonates in content and in how that content is conveyed. Despite the success of his previous ensemble, Hawkins felt that a new approach was in order and so, retaining only guitarist Otto ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins: Song Singular

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The concurrent releases of pianist/composer Alexander Hawkins solo and ensemble recordings demonstrate the up-and-coming artist's exceptional range of compositional skills across dissimilar formats. The young Oxford, UK native has been a much sought after sideman, working with free jazz sax legend Evan Parker, saxophonist Joe McPhee and renowned South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo. Hawkins is also a co-leader of the Convergence Quartet featuring cornet virtuoso Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Harris Eisenstadt, and double bassist Dominic Lash.Hawkins' solo effort, Song Singular, leaves any attempt to weed out influences a futile exercise. Layered notes and complex textures aggressively course through ...

INTERVIEWS

Alexander Hawkins: Retaining The Sense of Discovery

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One of the fastest-rising stars of the UK jazz scene, pianist Alexander Hawkins is remarkable in that he shines equally in both the further reaches of free improvisation and the creation of ingeniously crafted charts. Indeed, Hawkins' particular talent might be in bringing the two so close that it's hard to distinguish between them. At times on his two acclaimed Ensemble releases, No Now is So (FMR, 2009) and All There, Ever Out (Babel Label, 2012), there seems to be simultaneous expression of both the written and the unfettered. While uncompromisingly modern, he has a deep appreciation of the jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: All There, Ever Out

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It has been the Holy Grail of jazz since its inception: to carve out the perfect balance between the written and the spontaneously invented. While All There, Ever Out may not be the definitive statement, English pianist Alexander Hawkins has taken a bold stab at a new version of the equation, combining composition and improvisation in exciting and unpredictable ways. A rising star on the London scene, oft times in the company of saxophonist Evan Parker or drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, Hawkins has also held his own with visiting avant luminaries such as trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, and reedman Joe McPhee, ...



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