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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, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: London, UK, April 5, 2011

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Alexander Hawkins EnsembleCafé OtoLondon, UKApril 5, 2011 What do you do when two mainstays in your band leave? Tonight's gig was the first outing for the new line up of pianist Alexander Hawkins' group, necessitated by the loss of regular bassist Dominic Lash to New York City for a year, and drummer Javier Carmona's return to Barcelona. There was a lot to live up to: the old aggregation was a cohesive unit of long standing which had built up a fine rapport around Hawkins' challenging compositions, with their signature blend of written ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Alexander Hawkins Quartet at the Vortex, London

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Alexander Hawkins Quartet The Vortex London, England January 5, 2010

A very respectable audience braved the cold temperatures (for London where since global warming kicked in it rarely falls below freezing for very long) and further impending snow for the debut of the Alexander Hawkins new quartet at the Vortex. Hawkins continues to make waves having in the last month of 2009 enjoyed a successful meeting with Joe McPhee and his first New York gigs alongside downtown stalwarts Rob Brown, Ted Daniel, Harris Eisenstadt and Mark Helias.

More accustomed ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble at the Vortex, London

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Alexander Hawkins Ensemble The Vortex London, England August 10, 2009

If you can judge a person by the company he keeps, then pianist Alexander Hawkins must be someone to watch given his musical associations, both actual and virtual. The packed house at the Vortex certainly thought so, confounding Hawkins' concern that the crowd might be a little light given a Monday night in the holiday season.

Hawkins has recorded as part of the fresh improvising collective Barkingside and with the transatlantic Convergence Quartet, featuring two of the rising stars on the American scene ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: No Now Is So...

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Both the enigmatic title and Red Planet sleeve photography of this debut recording by Alexander Hawkins' six-piece ensemble suggest something out of the ordinary. The feeling is confirmed by a glance at the distinctive instrumentation, which pitches the strings of cellist Hannah Marshall, guitarist Otto Fischer and bassist Dominic Lash against the percussion of Javier Carmona and the Hawinkins' piano, with the wildcard being vibraphonist Orphy Robinson's steel pans. Elsewhere Hawkins is fast making a name for himself, recording with the improvising collective Barkingside and the transatlantic Convergence Quartet, as well as working with drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo and various Evan ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: No Now Is So

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Pianist Alexander Hawkins is one of the brightest rising young stars of British jazz and improvisation, amply demonstrated by his work in Barkingside, the Convergence Quartet, and the Evan Parker Quartet. Hawkins has technique in abundance and a brain quick enough to make creative use of it. With no obvious stylistic antecedents, he excels in a variety of styles, seeming to relish his eclectic approach to improvisation, an approach fully in evidence here.

This sextet represents a bold departure from Hawkins' other work. Formed in late 2007, all of its members are stalwarts of the London improvised music scene. Notwithstanding ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Barkingside and The Convergence Quartet: Young and Free

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Between them, these two quartets feature six young players, four from the UK, one from America, one from Canada. As the oldest of the six is not yet 35 years old--and several are much younger--they provide heartening evidence that there are plenty of good young improvisers around and that not all young players aspire to be boppers. The Convergence Quartet Live In Oxford FMR 2007 The Convergence Quartet teams pianist Alexander Hawkins and bassist Dominic Lash (both also in Barkingside) with cornetist/flugelhornist Taylor Ho Bynum from Baltimore and drummer ...



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