Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Convergence Quartet: Owl Jacket

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Owl Jacket forms the fourth release over a nine year period from the Convergence Quartet. At the outset, few would have predicted that it would become a going concern, uniting as it did two unknown young English improvisers in pianist Alexander Hawkins and bassist Dominic Lash and two of the brighter emerging talents on the New York scene in cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and drummer Harris Eisenstadt. But the outfit's continued survival demonstrates not only persistence but also commitment to a strong group identity.

And the traits evident on their successful debut Live In Oxford (FMR, 2007) endure even now in a winning formula of road-tested charts which avoid convention and incorporate both improv attitude and individual prowess. Each member is a leader in their own right as well as an audacious instrumentalist, and as is customary each brings charts to the date. Together they breathe unruly life into abstract structures and intellectual rigor into earthy grooves. But they always preserve a link to the jazz tradition in that meter and melody never stay hidden for long.

A notable spark exists in the back and forth between Hawkins and Bynum. The cornetist excels at understated pyrotechnics. He uses whistles, murmurs, grace notes and muted muttering to circumvent expectations, yet remains resolutely musical. For Hawkins, now recognized as one of the leading lights in the British firmament, exhibitions of instrumental technique similarly take a back seat to doing what's needed at any particular moment. Lash and Eisenstadt, who display both poise and pressure, interlock seamlessly, reveling in making complexity seem natural and unforced.

While the drummer's arrangement of the Ghanaian "Dogbe Na Wo Lo" opens proceedings in a gentle stately processional with a lovely restrained solo from Bynum, it's the bassist's "Jacket" which really gives an insight into the collective method. In a pointillist opening section, Bynum's distant squeal is framed by Hawkins' spare chording. But then comes a change as an uneasy meter kicks in. Hawkins makes a dazzling declaration which piles clipped notes one atop another over edgy bass and drums. Bynum drifts in over the busy interplay until it morphs into a series of overlapping stop start strokes which gradually unite at the close.

The influence of Anthony Braxton looms large, manifest in the diversity of approaches to adventurous small ensemble composition. With its marching cadences and Bynum's ersatz bugle fanfares, "Coyote" especially evokes the reed maestro. "Azalpho" maintains a choppy staccato throughout, although everyone digresses from the form in brief bursts while the others tend to the pulse. Giving a neat symmetry, Eisenstadt's rendering of the traditional Gambian song "Mamady Wo Murado Sa" ushers the limited edition LP to an elegant finale, affirming another fine addition to the band's discography.

Track Listing: Dogbe Na Wo Lo; Jacket; Coyote; Owl; Azalpho; Mamady Wo Murado Sa.

Personnel: Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet; Alexander Hawkins: piano; Dominic Lash: drums; Harris Eisenstadt: drums.

Title: Owl Jacket | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records


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
Read more articles
Owl Jacket

Owl Jacket

NoBusiness Records

Owl Jacket

Owl Jacket

NoBusiness Records

Slow And Steady

Slow And Steady

NoBusiness Records


Related Articles

Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019
Read Music! Music! Music! Album Reviews
Music! Music! Music!
By Doug Collette
May 20, 2019
Read Sheer Reckless Abandon Album Reviews
Sheer Reckless Abandon
By John Kelman
May 19, 2019
Read Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z Album Reviews
Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z
By Jack Bowers
May 19, 2019
Read To My Brothers Album Reviews
To My Brothers
By Victor L. Schermer
May 19, 2019