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 a cyclonic joy ride. Hawkins directs the ensemble through a string of odd-metered time signatures, awash with striking dynamics, abrupt accents and off-kilter rhythmic detours. Here, Dylan Bates' entwining violin passages and Shabaka Hutchings' fervent clarinet lines yield a conglomerate of contrasts, as the band also works within bop frameworks and weighty crash and burn metrics. Hawkins' pounding block chords, dark hues, and flickering patterns intersect the soloing activities with free-flowing dialogues and some keenly orchestrated false endings. During the bridge, electric guitarist Otto Fischer retracts the energized current and rebuilds the structural components via his resonating phraseology, designed with animated and meticulously crafted single note licks. Yet they bounce back and soar towards a zenith while also injecting a rollicking shuffle groove, prior to the rhythm section's pummeling finale. Hence, a fascinating program from start to finish.
Dylan Bates: violin; Neil Charles: double bass; Otto Fischer: electric
guitar; Alexander Hawkins: piano; Shabaka Hutchings: clarinet, bass
clarinet; Tom Skinner: drums, percussion.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.