Reviews that mention Alexander Hawkins

June 9, 2017

Chicago/London Underground

A Night Walking Through Mirrors
Cuneiform Records RUNE 428

Like a canny car fanatic who soups up his American-made flivver by adding appropriate accelerating parts from foreign autos, this year’s Chicago Underground (CU) Ensemble model is hybrid Anglo-American. CU inventors, cornetist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor, append high-class British engineering from pianist Alexander Hawkins and bassist John Edwards to come up with a model that speeds along with novel ferocity without losing any of the already developed unexpected sonic allusions. MORE

February 18, 2017

NPR’s 11th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot
2016

•Your name and primary affiliation(s)

Ken Waxman: Jazzword.com The New York City Jazz Record; Whole Note

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases listed in descending order

1. Alexander Hawkins Trio Alexander Hawkins Music AH 1001

2. Anna Webber’s Simple Trio Binary Skirl Records 033

3. Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus The Distance ECM 2484

4. Artifacts Reed-Reid-Mitchell 482 Music 482-1093

5. Umlaut Big Band Euro Swing Vol. 2 Umlaut UMFR-CD18 MORE

July 16, 2016

Alexander Hawkins/Evan Parker

Leaps in Leicester
Clean Feed CF 362 CD

Sant’Anna Quintet

Filu ‘e Ferru

MBR SA Jazz No #

Perhaps more than any similar aggregation of players, it’s evident that London-based Free Music practitioner are more open to cross-generational fraternization that those in other countries. Of course like those who see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a children’s story and those who read hallucinogenic experiences into it, there may be differing reasons for this phenomenon. From its earliest days, with drummer John Stevens and guitarist Derek Bailey, the British music’s elders have frequently cast themselves in pedagogical roles. Conversely there may appear to be so much cross-generational collaboration in the United Kingdom, because with their mania for classification only the British would be dead set on ascribing players to one generation or another. MORE

July 16, 2016

Sant’Anna Quintet

Filu ‘e Ferru
MBR SA Jazz No #

Alexander Hawkins/Evan Parker

Leaps in Leicester

Clean Feed CF 362 CD

Perhaps more than any similar aggregation of players, it’s evident that London-based Free Music practitioner are more open to cross-generational fraternization that those in other countries. Of course like those who see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a children’s story and those who read hallucinogenic experiences into it, there may be differing reasons for this phenomenon. From its earliest days, with drummer John Stevens and guitarist Derek Bailey, the British music’s elders have frequently cast themselves in pedagogical roles. Conversely there may appear to be so much cross-generational collaboration in the United Kingdom, because with their mania for classification only the British would be dead set on ascribing players to one generation or another. MORE

December 6, 2015

Alexander Hawkins

Trio
Alexander Hawkins Music AH 1001

Putting his own stamp on the traditional Jazz piano trio format is London’s Alexander Hawkins, already known for his work in groups featuring Taylor Ho Bynum and Louis Moholo-Moholo. Reacting against the studied circumspection of too literal followers of Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and the like, Hawkins’s eight compositions are supple and punchy but avoid superficial beats the way a sophisticated tailor eschews trendy ornamentation in bespoke creations.

As the title blatantly proclaims this is a group endeavor as well. Adaptable bassist Neil Charles is a former member of Empirical who also leads the Zed-U trio; while percussionist Tom Skinner is a member of Sons of Kemet and The Grip, both featuring tubaist Oren Marshall. While there is no brass-like bluster involved on Trio, together Charles and Skinner continued enough confident string pumps and authoritative rumbles to keep all tunes moving at respectable clips. MORE

May 12, 2015

Louis Moholo-Moholo Unit

For The Blue Notes
Ogun Records OGCD 042

Neelamjit Dhillon Quartet

Komagata Maru

No Label No #

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Bird Calls

ACT 9581-2

Rez Abbasi Acoutic Quartet

Intents and Purposes

Enja Records ENJ-952-2

Something In The Air: Varying Definitions of Ethnic-oriented Improvised Music

By Ken Waxman

When it comes to welcoming immigrants to North America, Canada and the United States have long had different policies. To Americans the ideal is the melting pot with all foreigners persuaded to become true-blue Yanks. Modern Canada, once it shook off fealty to Britain, has long promoted multi-culturalism, where immigrants become Canadians without giving up their homeland identity. Generalities should be avoided, but it’s informative to see these concepts played out in improvised music. Thus Neelamjit Dhillon, born in Vancouver of Sikh background, has created a notable CD based on the infamous 1914 incident when 376 mostly Sikh immigrants were refused entry to Canada. To do so he mixes traditional Indian instruments with Western ones. In contrast American performers, who are his contemporaries, and with similar immigrant roots, have recorded sessions exclusively linked to the un-hyphenated jazz continuum. MORE

April 27, 2015

Louis Moholo-Moholo Quartet

4 Blokes
Ogun OGCD 043

Rarely is there a 67-minute CD that zips by as if it actually lasts 67 nanoseconds. But such is the level of elation raised by 4 Blokes that not only does it move with supersonic velocity, but you also which there was more of it.

Such is the universality of improvised music that this first recording makes it seem as if the 4 Blokes had been playing together forever. That’s a feat history makes impossible. South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo was born in 1940 and was playing professionally by the end of the 1950s. While saxophonist Jason Yarde and bassist John Edwards may have been working with the drummer since the early 1990s and pianist Alexander Hawkins and Moholo-Moholo now play in a widely praised duo, not one of this all-British trio was born when the drummer turned professional; the pianist in fact is 41 years younger than Moholo-Moholo. MORE

December 21, 2014

NPR 9th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2014

Ken Waxman’s ballot

NEW RELEASES

1. Yoni Kretzmer-Pascal Niggenkemper-Weasel Walter, Protest Music (OutNow)

2. Paul Giallorenzo, Force Majeure (Delmark)

3. Kyle Bruckmann, . . . Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire (SingleSpeed Music)

4. Sakata/Lonberg-Holm/Gutvik/Nilssen-Love, The Cliff of Time (PNL)

5. Alexander Hawkins, Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel)

6. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Alexey Lapin, The Russia Concerts Volume 1/The Russia Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

7. Rodrigo Amado & Jeb Bishop, The Flame Alphabet (NotTwo) MORE

August 26, 2014

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble

Step Wide, Step Deep
Babel BDV 13124

A fine, forward-looking session, Step Wide, Step Deep is also a step forward for pianist/bandleader Alexander Hawkins. Working almost exclusively with Hawkins-composed material, the sextet is attuned to the most advanced expression without ignoring Jazz’s bedrock swing. Organized around three chordal instruments – Dylan Bates’s violin and Otto Fischer’s guitar as well as Hawkins’ piano, taut arrangements prevent the tracks from sinking into gauche sentimentality or excessive placidity. MORE

July 22, 2014

Dominic Lash Quartet

Opabinia
Babel BDV 13122

Sophisticated samples of top-flight British Jazz – even if two of the quartet members are Spanish – Opabinia also demonstrates that bassist Dominic Lash has come into his own as a composer as well as a player. Oxford-based, although he usually gigs in London and has spent some time in New York, Lash has worked extensively with American trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum and Canadian drummer Harris Eisenstadt plus Britons like saxophonist Evan Parker and John Butcher.

Less gnarly than straight-ahead with a twist, the 11 tunes here flow with flexible looseness. Additionally they show off the sidemen’s skills to their best advantage. Not there is much question of sourcing invention and cooperation from the three others. Pianist Alexander Hawkins, who is part of the Convergence Quartet along with Lash, Bynum and Eisenstadt, also leads his own bands and has developed other long-term playing relationships. Now Barcelona-based, drummer Javier Carmona, who lived in London for a spell, plays with UK residents like guitarist John Russell. As for Madrid-born tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ricardo Tejero, he’s been in the UK since 2001, working with experimenters like trumpeter Roland Ramanen. MORE

April 28, 2014

Alexander Hawkins

Song Singular
Babel BDV 13120

Simon James Phillips

Chair

Room40 RM458

Expressing musical impressions in a solo setting – especially when a piano is involved – should be anything but reductionist. While interpretative input from other players is absent, the vitality of the performer’s ideas and his or her interpretation of them should be robust enough to make up for any perceived lack of sonics.

Both keyboardists here have admirably dealt with these challenges. Yet each has come up with an individual course of action to propel his ideas. Australian-born, Berlin-based Simon James Phillips constructs his recital around the spatial qualities of the German church in which he recorded, which serves to add an extra layer of sustain to the CD’s tough and inflective seven tracks. Even though he too has a so-called classical background like Phillips, London-based Alexander Hawkins is a Jazz improviser rather than a tone scientist. At the same time as his playing eschews subservience to tradition, Hawkins references earlier stylists like Duke Ellington and Ray Bryant as much as Sun Ra’s and Cecil Taylor’s advances. MORE

January 8, 2014

Label Spotlight

Babel
By Ken Waxman

With London considered the financial centre of the world, it seems appropriate that a former bank economist is using his record label to try to make that city and its musicians the centre of the jazz world – or at least working steadily.

The label is Babel, which in the years leading up to its 20th anniversary in 2014 has released more than 130 CDs in a variety of styles connected to the UK capital’s burgeoning music scene. Oliver Weindling is Babel’s founder, proprietor and only full-time employee. He started the imprint after a financial market contraction led him into consultancy and organizing gigs for local musicians. Today he’s also an unpaid director of London’s Vortex Jazz club. The reason for Babel’s birth: “There weren’t labels releasing music by musicians with whom I was working, and at that time releases were essential to get any publicity,” he explains. The name reflects the concept of music as a universal; language and is understandable in many languages, a plus when, as Weindling points out “you’re as likely to get a review in Germany as in UK.” MORE

December 23, 2013

8th Annual Jazz Critics Poll – NPR Music

Ken Waxman
(The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)

NEW RELEASES

1. Convergence Quartet, Slow and Steady (NoBusiness)

2. Andrew Cyrille, Duology (Jazzwerkstatt)

3. Black Host, Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (Northern Spy)

4. Scott Neumann, Blessed (Origin)

5. Michel Edelin, Resurgence (RogueArt)

6. Ab Baars-Meinard Kneer-Bill Elgart, Give No Quarter (Evil Rabbit)

7. Maria Faust, Jazz Catastrophe (Barefoot)

8. Barry Altschul, The 3dom Factor (TUM)

9. Mark Dresser, Nourishments (Clean Feed)

10. Alexey Kruglov-Alexey Lapin-Jaak Sooäär-Oleg Yudanov, Military Space (Leo) MORE

September 24, 2013

The Convergence Quartet

Slow and Steady
NoBusiness NBCD 53

Book of Three

Continuum (2012)

Relative Pitch RPR 1012

Gianni Lenoci Hocus Pocus 4 + Taylor Ho Bynum

Empty Chair

Setola di Maiale SM 2440

Along with leading his own band(s) and serving as aide-de-camp for many of Anthony Braxton’s projects, peripatetic cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum somehow manages to find time to regularly gig with players on both sides of the Atlantic. Sympathetic to others’ ideas his presence manages to multiply the number of high quality sessions extant. MORE

August 13, 2013

Human

Being Human
Babel BDV 13116

Sudo Quartet

Live at Banlieue Bleue

No Business Records NBCD 51

Unusual instrumentation and an inferred concept of what constitutes Free Music create unique experiences from each of these CDs despite approximate instrumental correlation. Committed to bare-bones, uncompromising improvisation are the members of the Sudo Quartet, a multi-national crew made up of continental stylists who have played free sounds almost from the time of its birth. More closely affiliated with close-ended compositions are the four humans in Human, who also represent some of the most advanced youngish improvisers in the British Isles. Still, each session can be enjoyed on its own merits. MORE

April 6, 2013

Label Spotlight

Bo’Weavil
By Ken Waxman

Although he states “jazz has always been my first love” when Mark Morris founded London-based Bo’Weavil records in 2004 it was with the conviction that “the walls between genres are coming down”. Because of that, over the years the label has released 57 different titles, on LP and CD, mixing traditional British and American folk music, with modern singer/guitarists sessions along with a hearty helping of free jazz.

“A lot of people who listen to a lot of free music also listen to a lot of traditional music, there’s a link in the authenticity of the music,” adds Morris. “If you listen to records by C Joynes & The Restless Dead for example, [represented by seven Bo’Weavil releases] some quiet different compositions are equally influenced by ethnic folk forms from let’s say Africa or the music of Albert Ayler. [Progressive composer/fiddler] Henry Flynt was certainly influenced by the wealth of avant-garde music, be that free improve, electo-acoustic composers or minimalist composers like Morton Feldman. Flynt became interested in applying minimalist principles to American folk music. MORE

March 15, 2013

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble

All There, Ever Out
Babel BDV 1196

Alexander Hawkins & Louis Moholo-Moholo

Keep Your Heart Straight

Ogun OGCD 039

Praised frequently as one of the United Kingdom’s most accomplished young pianists, on the basis of these discs it’s easy to see how Oxford-based Alexander Hawkins has gained this reputation. Someone whose collaborators as pianist and organist have included North Americans drummer Harris Eisenstadt, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and reedist Joe McPhee, Hawkins is also perfectly at home working with Commonwealth citizens who are veterans or his contemporaries. MORE

March 15, 2013

Alexander Hawkins & Louis Moholo-Moholo

Keep Your Heart Straight
Ogun OGCD 039

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble

All There, Ever Out

Babel BDV 1196

Praised frequently as one of the United Kingdom’s most accomplished young pianists, on the basis of these discs it’s easy to see how Oxford-based Alexander Hawkins has gained this reputation. Someone whose collaborators as pianist and organist have included North Americans drummer Harris Eisenstadt, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and reedist Joe McPhee, Hawkins is also perfectly at home working with Commonwealth citizens who are veterans or his contemporaries. MORE

November 30, 2011

Pat Thomas/Oxford Improvisers Orchestra

4 Compositions for Orchestra
FMR CD 293-0810

AIM Toronto Orchestra

Year of the Boar

Barnyard Records BR0322

Spurred by the world-wide conduction projects of Butch Morris and their results, improvising ensembles in Europe and North America have been organized to advance the concept of playing free music on a larger scale.

Although there are notable orchestras in expected places such as London, New York and Berlin, often the most remarkable, and certainly the most original, large group interpretations come from bands in smaller centres. Working with a group of like-minded musicians in his hometown, for instance, British pianist/electronics manipulator Pat Thomas has composed dissimilar pieces for the Oxford Improvisers Orchestra (OIO) on this CD. Involving voices, non-Western instruments, a tribute to a Jazz master and a literal violin concerto, each moves in a different fashion. Toronto’s AIM Toronto Orchestra (AIMTO) on the other hand plays pieces by four different composers on its seven-track CD. However under the direction of artistic director/soprano saxophonist Kyle Brenders, who penned the two lengthiest pieces, a harmonic uniformity exists. MORE

February 27, 2011

Decoy & Joe McPhee

Oto
Bo Weavil Recordings 041 CD

Joe McPhee and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten

Blues Chicago Blues

NotTwo MW 841-2

Despite a recording career which stretches back to 1968, saxophonist Joe McPhee shows no signs of slowing down, even as he reaches the age of 71. If anything newly recorded CDs such as these show that his improvisational and interpretative skills are even more advanced than in the past.

Notably enough his talents are on display here in two of Jazz’s most orthodox settings: as part of an organ combo on Oto, and on a program reflecting the conventions and sensations of the Blues, on the almost too obviously titled Blues Chicago Blues. As idiomatically American as these contexts may be, it’s probably also significant that all of his associates here are European: Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on Blues Chicago Blues, and three Londoners – Hammond organ player Alexander Hawkins, bassist John Edwards and percussionist Steve Noble – who make up Decoy, on Oto. MORE