All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

3

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet: UpRoot

David Rocheleau-Houle By

Sign in to view read count
Taking risk is—among other things—the essence of free jazz and experimental music. It is by taking risk that musicians can develop their own identity and push further the too many musical borders. With the possibility to take risk, a sense of freedom emerges—whether this sense of freedom refers to something real is not important here—and a range of new possibilities are now being unleashed. A sure sense of freedom emanates from UpRoot, and The Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet are making the most of the risks they are taking. The Quartet is constituted of Hawkins on piano, Mitchener on voice, Neil Charles on double bass, and Stephen Davis on drums and percussion.

A deep sense of thoughtfulness emerges from Hawkins' compositions and their renditions, something emphasized by Charles' and Davis' scattered and very strong performance. All the compositions on UpRoot are from Hawkins, except for "Why is Love Such a Funny Thing?" (Patty Waters), "The Miracle" (Jeanne Lee), "Blasé" (Archie Shepp), "Directives" (Mitchener), and "If You Say So" (Charles / Davis / Hawkins / Mitchener). With UpRoot, Hawkins continues to secure his place as a great composer in the free jazz world, a place that he has earned with the publication of many high-quality recordings. His capacity to compose for different contexts (solo, duo, trio, quartet, and larger ensemble) is also admirable. Hawkins, an impressive composer, is also a skilled pianist. On UpRoot, and especially with the track with the the same title, Hawkins' play is sometimes agitated, but without being too overwhelming.

Mitchener is an experimental vocalist and a movement artist. She has worked with—among many others—George Lewis, Phil Minton, Evan Parker, and David Toop. Showing an exceptional control over her voice, she uses different techniques to explore various facets of expression and sound colors. On many tracks, such as "The Miracle / You," "UpRoot," and "OM-SE /Environment Music," Mitchener is uttering sounds that are not words—in some cases, something like "mock words"—to give an unusual texture to the music. This approach and technique, deployed marvelously by Mitchener, adds a different meaning to Hawkins' compositions, as these sounds or "mock words" do not have a fixed meaning as words of natural language have. The risks Mitchener is taking on UpRoot are paying off also because they are supported by great musicians, such as Hawkins, Charles and Davis are. Her voice is one monad of a bigger ensemble within which she merges perfectly.

Track Listing: Why Is Love Such a Funny Thing?; The Miracle / You; UpRoot; If You Say So; Blasé; OM-SE / Environment Music; Joy; Directives / Walk Nicely / I’ll Meet You There.

Personnel: Alexander Hawkins: piano; Elaine Mitchener: voice; Neil Charles: double bass; Stephen Davis: drums, percussion.

Title: UpRoot | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Intakt Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Indaco" CD/LP/Track Review Indaco
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: April 9, 2018
Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" CD/LP/Track Review For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Live from Stern Grove Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live from Stern Grove Festival
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Live from San Pedro" CD/LP/Track Review Live from San Pedro
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 3, 2018
Read "Windows and lights" CD/LP/Track Review Windows and lights
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: June 15, 2018
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 8, 2018