13

Billy Hart Quartet: One is the Other

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Hart Quartet: One is the Other 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 grown up and into its own.

With compositional contributions split fairly evenly between the drummer, saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson, it also continues Hart's egalitarian bent. Iverson's biggest claim to fame has been with The Bad Plus, but it's outside the confines of that group that Iverson seems to excel. The a cappella piano solo occupying the first 105 seconds of Turner's "Lennie Groove," One is the Other's opener, is as knotty as the saxophonist's own theme when it enters around the two minute mark, doubled by Iverson, with Ben Street holding down the groove and Hart both defining the pulse alongside the bassist and tripling the melody on his kit. It's a subtle but auspicious start.

One of this quartet's defining qualities is its ability to deliver Turner's (and Iverson's) oftentimes cerebral, occasionally idiosyncratic music with a graceful ease which belies its underlying challenge. It's also an opportunity to lucently experience every single instrument, every single note. Hart opens Iverson's indigo "Maraschino" with a brief solo that's less about a virtuosity that, by this time in his career, is a given; instead, it's all spare cymbal splashes and brushed snare drum—so delicately played, and yet everything can be heard, gradually dissolving into the silence surrounding it. It's another thematically heady piece, and also shines a spotlight on Turner's remarkable altissimo. Few saxophonists alive manage such pure and rich tone in the upper register without becoming loud and harsh; it's Turner's control across the entire range of his tenor—and at quiet volumes—that speak to his compleat instrumental mastery.

Of the album's three writers, Hart is, unsurprisingly, the more rhythmically focused. "Teule's Redemption" manages an easygoing feel while concurrently played with the kind of freedom that has defined this group since its inception. Hart also revisits the title track to his Amethyst (Arabesque, 1993), but this time, rather than soaring horns and searing guitars, it's largely rubato, with Iverson and Hart engaging in some in tandem free play that, coming towards the end of the track, stands as one of the record's finest moments, before the group finally coalesces for its defined rhythm and singable theme.

The rest of the record is every bit as good as these four opening tracks; with ECM paying increasing attention to North American musicians—with particular focus on a clearly vibrant New York scene, the sublimely open One is the Other is both this quartet's best record yet, and further evidence to counter those who accuse ECM's purview of being too Euro-centric.


Track Listing: Lennie Groove; Maraschino; Teule's Redemption; Amethyst; Yard; Sonnet for Steve; Some Enchanted Evening; Big Trees.

Personnel: Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson: piano; Ben Street: double bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Daylight Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Shock Axis" CD/LP/Track Review Shock Axis
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Live At Edgefest" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Edgefest
by John Sharpe
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Pássaros: The Foundation of the Island" CD/LP/Track Review Pássaros: The Foundation of the Island
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "Clockwork" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwork
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Further Explorations" CD/LP/Track Review Further Explorations
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!