5

March 2013: Billy Hart Quartet

RJ Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Hart Quartet

Philadelphia Art Alliance

Philadelphia, PA

March 20, 2013

The 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 the intimate setting of the Philadelphia Art Alliance, where the audience was seated just feet from the band in a rich acoustic environment, the group captured the delicate yet ever-seeking qualities which listeners and critics alike found remarkably intriguing about the recording.

The band's book consists of compositions from Hart, Turner and Iverson. The convoluted swing of Iverson's "South Hampton" opened the set with a dark and complex melody, and featured solos from each member of the group. Iverson began his solo with simplistic single-note phrases before delving into rhythmically complex harmonic figures. The interaction amongst the musicians was particularly interesting, Hart catching onto every rhythmic suggestion offered by Iverson, using the pianist's ideas to develop his own accompaniment. At the same time, Street kept the slow swing feel extremely steady throughout Iverson's solo, while Hart kept time with simple quarter notes on his ride cymbal. The simultaneous interplay between Hart and both Iverson and Street showcased the drummer's abilities to the fullest extent, almost sounding as if two different drummers were playing at once.

The tune also allowed Street to stretch out and display his skills as an improviser. Although Street is often busy propelling the group forward with his bouncing quarter-note feel or solidifying the band's free improvisations with his steady tone, his improvisational contributions were never less than completely compelling, as the bassist took an extended solo with Hart again keeping time using only a quiet quarter-note pulse on his ride cymbal while, this time, also playing two and four on the high hat. With no harmonic background, Street took his playing in any direction he pleased, excelling within a stark environment which other bassists might have found daunting.

Turner was in full form throughout the evening. The band seemed to favor free improvisation fused with compelling slow swing or straight-eighth tunes throughout the set, and both of these styles suited Turner's use of extended thematic development during his solos. During the free improvisations—whether performed simultaneously as a group or with each musician developing his own solo—Turner never allowed his own playing to become aggressive or dynamically intense. Instead, his free improvisations carried as much thought and care as his solos over steady form. The saxophonist's solos never seemed to contain any wasted notes; even his quick flourishes or extended altissimo leaps seemed well- conceived and were always flawlessly executed. His solo on an unnamed (or as Hart explained, unpronounceable) slow swing tune during the middle of the set drew praise from Hart himself at the close of the piece.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live From Philadelphia
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Read more articles
The Broader Picture

The Broader Picture

ENJA - Yellowbird
2017

buy
The Broader Picture

The Broader Picture

ENJA - Yellowbird
2016

buy
One is the Other

One is the Other

ECM Records
2014

buy
All Our Reasons

All Our Reasons

ECM Records
2012

buy
 

True Story

Dreyfus Records
2010

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jul29Mon
David Stern Quartet
Zinc Bar
New York, NY
$20
Sep19Thu
Aaron Parks Trio Featuring Billy Hart And Ben Street
Bop Stop
Cleveland, OH
$2030

Related Articles

Read Aaron Goldberg Trio at @exuberance Live From Philadelphia
Aaron Goldberg Trio at @exuberance
By Geno Thackara
November 28, 2018
Read Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at World Cafe Live Live From Philadelphia
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at World Cafe Live
By Geno Thackara
May 11, 2018
Read Katie Thiroux Trio at South Jazz Parlor Live From Philadelphia
Katie Thiroux Trio at South Jazz Parlor
By Geno Thackara
February 28, 2018
Read Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie Live From Philadelphia
Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie
By Geno Thackara
June 9, 2017
Live From Philadelphia
Glenn Zaleski Trio at Chris' Jazz Cafe
By Geno Thackara
May 8, 2017
Live From Philadelphia
Sittin' In with the Odean Pope Trio at the Kimmel Center
By Geno Thackara
April 16, 2017