Billy Hart Quartet Village Vanguard New York, NY June 3, 2014 What does it take for an esteemed veteran drummer to get his due as a leader? In the case of the great Billy Hart, it seems that a pair of albums under his name on the ECM imprint--All Our Reasons (ECM, 2012) and One Is The Other (ECM, 2014)-- helped to do the trick. Hart, who's been around the block more than a few times, cooked behind organist Jimmy Smith early in his career, added settled and unsettled rhythms to ...read more
The ubiquitous drummer Billy Hart brings a special energy to the many projects of which he is a part. A band leader, composer and educator, he's been on hundreds of albums. He has taken the stage with countless bands, adding his rhythmic pulse to formations led by a litany of the biggest names in the business. And at each concert, when Hart is being introduced by whomever the leader--Christian McBride, Eliane Elias, Joe Lovano, the Cookers--they always do so beaming with pleasure. It never fails. It's always done with a sense of genuine warmth. They know Hart has ...read more
There's little doubt about the value of longevity and ongoing musical relationships. It's been nearly a decade since Billy Hart assembled the group that would turn out to be his longest-standing, releasing Quartet (HighNote) in 2006. But it was with 2012's All Our Reasons that the drummer moved to ECM, reaping the benefits of the label's renowned attention to detail. It's also facilitated an accelerated release rate; after a six year gap between the first two records, One is the Other comes just two years later, continuing to capitalize on the strengths and evolving chemistry of a quartet that's clearly ...read more
Billy Hart QuartetPhiladelphia Art AlliancePhiladelphia, PAMarch 20, 2013The music of the Billy Hart Quartet demonstrates a thorough amalgamation of intriguingly disparate musical elements which retains both the mastery of a group of accomplished veterans and the perpetually transformative nature of a leader dedicated to a lifetime of artistic pursuits. The ensemble, consisting of drummer Hart, bassist Ben Street, pianist Ethan Iverson and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, has been Hart's working band since 2003.The selections on this night came from the band's most recent release, All Our Reasons (ECM, 2012). Within ...read more
In a career spanning work with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and trumpeter Miles Davis to pianists Tommy Flanagan and Marian McPartland, drummer Billy Hart has pretty much seen it all, from the most centrist mainstream to the outer reaches of free playing and beyond. But as he approaches 72 later in 2012, there's one thing Hart hasn't done--until now. All Our Reasons represents the first time the veteran drummer has reunited the same band as on a previous recording, in this case, his well-received 2006 HighNote debut, the simply titled Quartet . Moving to a different label doesn't always mean change, ...read more
If, indeed, albums are living breathing beings--and this might well be so--then the beating heart of Five on One, by the marvelous Contact ensemble, is Lost Horizon," a mighty, burbling piece of music that appears to come from a cornucopia of modern sound. It is mysterious, magical and hypnotic, and brings waves of sound that lap incessantly into the inner ear with that warm undertow made memorable by five of the most eminent musicians of this day. Incandescent saxophonist Dave Liebman melds undulating sound with the mellifluous tonal palette of guitarist John Abercrombie. Both these men make their harmonies dance ...read more
Five on One features five of the most renowned artists in modern jazz working together as a cooperative ensemble under the name Contact. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart transcend the aesthetic limitations of many similar all-star gatherings with their complementary sensibilities, garnered over the years in various configurations.
Although this is the first time all five musicians have worked together, their paths have crossed many times before, most recently on Copland's Another Place (Pirouet, 2008). Abercrombie and Liebman were founding members of the early seventies fusion septet ...read more
The practice of forming super groups in jazz can be fraught with disaster. Festival promoters often try to draw audiences by lumping musicians together in all-star settings, but a lack of chemistry, familiarity, common ground or interest, often turns these events into yawn-inducing bores. All four of these boundaries, thankfully, don't come into play with Contact--the collaborative quintet responsible for Five On One. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart are connected through various channels. Liebman and Abercrombie go back almost forty years--having worked together in Lookout Farm--and ...read more
The band called Contact is about as all-star an affair as can be found in modern jazz, and it's hard to imagine any serious listener not having a favorite among the players, whether it's saxophonist and renaissance man Dave Liebman, pianist Marc Copland--whose marvelous New York Trio Recordings pushed his profile up closer to where it belongs--ECM Records stalwart/guitarist John Abercrombie, veteran drummer Billy Hart, or ubiquitous super sideman/bassist Drew Gress. Five on One burns brightly, with a highly cohesive chamber ensemble sound, with no star outshining the others.Writing assignments are passed around, starting with Abercrombie's lilting Sendup." ...read more
They've played together in various permutations and combinations, but Five on One represents the first time they've joined together as a discrete unit. Reconvening the Second Look (Savoy, 1996) quartet--which comprises four-fifths of Contact-- pianist Marc Copland proved you can go back again with Another Place (Pirouet, 2009). The quartet's bassist, Drew Gress, has also been a longstanding member of Copland's piano trio, last heard on Night Whispers: New York Trio Recordings Vol. 3 (Pirouet, 2009). Its drummer, Billy Hart, teamed with saxophonist Dave Liebman in Quest, a late-'80s group that reunited for a 2005 tour, documented on Redemption: Live ...read more
The Billy Hart Academy featuring Theo Croker The Rubin Museum of Art / JVC Jazz Festival New York, New York June 20, 2008
The Billy Hart Academy's outstanding show, on a Friday evening at New York's Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art as part of the 2008 JVC Jazz Festival, confirmed the best aspects of both the players and the celebrated music festival that began at Newport. Hart's storied prowess as a drummer has, in recent years, been rivaled by his contribution as a jazz educator (when not pursuing his busy touring schedule, Hart ...read more
In 2005 Quest did Led Zeppelin one better, reuniting all four original members to play gigs in the US and Europe. Active in the 1980s and into the early 1990s, this super-group was just one project that over the decades involved saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Richie Beirach. Interest in the band was renewed by a set of archival material released by Mosaic in 2004. Now comes Redemption. Recorded live in Switzerland and France, the album finds Quest playing with undiminished ardor, revisiting older material but also venturing into new areas. Monk's 'Round Midnight" is the opener ...read more
The passage of time has no meaning when it comes to the kind of intimate musical understanding that saxophonist David Liebman and pianist Richie Beirach have shared since first working together in the early '70s. They have collaborated on numerous group projects as well as a series of duet recordings that are in dire need of reissue. Perhaps their longest and most enduring group was Quest, a quartet that released half a dozen albums between 1981 and 1990.
Redemption - Quest Live in Europe documents a 2005 reunion, and in many respects it feels as if no time has passed. ...read more
John Geggie/Nancy Walker/Billy Hart Geggie Concert Series National Arts Centre, Fourth Stage Ottawa, Canada February 22, 2007
Probably the only thing that one can count on when attending John Geggie's concert series at Ottawa's National Arts Center is to expect the unexpected. For the fourth show of the 2006-2007 season the veteran local bassist recruited Toronto pianist Nancy Walker and drum legend Billy Hart for a show that may have stayed mainly in the modern mainstream but had its share of surprises as well.
The seed for this concert was sown back ...read more
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