BILLY HART, ALL OUR REASONS

Drummer Billy Hart has been playing and performing with top tier names since the 60’s, but based on the music he’s recorded with pianist Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus), saxophonist Mark Turner (FLY) and bassist Ben Street (Kurt Rosenwinkel), he sounds like he’s never been happier. That’s what you hear on 2009’s “Quartet” (HighNote), an album characterized by this band’s high functioning level of interplay. With its refreshing reads on tunes by Coltrane and Parker, and an edgy mix of originals, “Quartet” sounds like nothing less than a master class on improvisational possibilities.
Photo by me at band's gig on April 3, 2012. Sorry, Ben Street!

“All Our Reasons,” their debut on the ECM label, finds the band delving deeper into a sound shaped by nuance of tone and tempo. The album doesn’t produce the same frisson as hearing the band live, but suggests just the same that there’s more going on than just music. It’s a brotherhood, linked in part by musical telepathy but mostly an open appreciation and respect for Billy Hart.

The music on “Reasons” is bold and nearly free form. Hart’s “Song For Balkis” intrigues as a sweetly textured ballad with Turner playing pensively around Hart’s gentle but unpredictable beats until the drummer escalates the tempo with dramatic flourishes. Iverson reworks John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” as “Ohnedaruth” (Coltrane’s adopted spiritual name), merely whispering its familiar melody as he pursues harmonic variations within. Turner’s “Nigeria” is a high-speed workout, the band flushed with facility and fast reflexes. And “Duchess” squeezes evocative solos out of melodic motifs for a nicely twisted sonic free-for-all. Throughout, Street’s tuneful bass wraps delicious notes around the contours of band mate’s solos, Turner confidently moves between contemplation and bursts of expressiveness and Hart works his kit like a percussive orchestra, and in the end they all come together, playing like a quartet of musical brothers. (9 tracks; 59:34 minutes)

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JAZZ IN SPACE: BILLY HART, ALL OUR REASONS

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BILLY HART, ALL OUR REASONS

Drummer Billy Hart has been playing and performing with top tier names since the 60’s, but based on the music he’s recorded with pianist Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus), saxophonist Mark Turner (FLY) and bassist Ben Street (Kurt Rosenwinkel), he sounds like he’s never been happier. That’s what you hear on 2009’s “Quartet” (HighNote), an album characterized by this band’s high functioning level of interplay. With its refreshing reads on tunes by Coltrane and Parker, and an edgy mix of originals, “Quartet” sounds like nothing less than a master class on improvisational possibilities.
Photo by me at band's gig on April 3, 2012. Sorry, Ben Street!

“All Our Reasons,” their debut on the ECM label, finds the band delving deeper into a sound shaped by nuance of tone and tempo. The album doesn’t produce the same frisson as hearing the band live, but suggests just the same that there’s more going on than just music. It’s a brotherhood, linked in part by musical telepathy but mostly an open appreciation and respect for Billy Hart.

The music on “Reasons” is bold and nearly free form. Hart’s “Song For Balkis” intrigues as a sweetly textured ballad with Turner playing pensively around Hart’s gentle but unpredictable beats until the drummer escalates the tempo with dramatic flourishes. Iverson reworks John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” as “Ohnedaruth” (Coltrane’s adopted spiritual name), merely whispering its familiar melody as he pursues harmonic variations within. Turner’s “Nigeria” is a high-speed workout, the band flushed with facility and fast reflexes. And “Duchess” squeezes evocative solos out of melodic motifs for a nicely twisted sonic free-for-all. Throughout, Street’s tuneful bass wraps delicious notes around the contours of band mate’s solos, Turner confidently moves between contemplation and bursts of expressiveness and Hart works his kit like a percussive orchestra, and in the end they all come together, playing like a quartet of musical brothers. (9 tracks; 59:34 minutes)

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