|Alexander Hawkins & Elaine Mitchener Quartet — UpRoot|
Alexander Hawkins & Elaine Mitchener Quartet — UpRoot★•→•• UpRoot, the first recording of the Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet, is now out. I’m very happy to be working with Intakt Records to present this music. The band will be touring in 2018; any promoters interested — please do be in touch.
★•→•• The launch concert for this release will be January 12th at Kings Place, London. Other concerts announced shortly — please keep an eye on the Live page.
★•→•• Financial Times jazz reviewer Mike Hobart described Hawkins’ improvising in 2010 as being “rooted in the early days of free jazz, when collective freedom was built on urgent rhythms, clear direction and a sense of history. He plays to the pulse and builds up a ferocious momentum. [...] Opening melodies provide structure, especially when modulated to different keys, and there are spiky riffs, swooping arpeggios and a bundle of jazzy references.”
Born: 3 May 1981, Oxford, United Kingdom
Location: Oxford, England
Album release: November 2017
Record Label: Intakt Records / AH Music
1. Why Is Love Such a Funny Thing? 2:19
2. The Miracle · You 7:06
3. UpRoot 8:59
4. If You Say So 4:45
5. Blasé 2:51
6. OM~SE · Environment Music 13:26
7. Directives · Walk Nicely · I’ll Meet You There 4:00
¤¤ Neil Charles: Double Bass
¤¤ Stephen Davis: Drums, Percussion
¤¤ Alexander Hawkins: Piano
¤¤ Elaine Mitchener: Voice
★•→•• All compositions by Alexander Hawkins, except ‘Why Is Love Such a Funny Thing?’ (Patty Waters);
★•→•• ‘The Miracle’ (Jeanne Lee); ‘Blasé’ (Archie Shepp); ‘Directives’ (Elaine Mitchener); and ‘If You Say So’ (Charles/Davis/Hawkins/Mitchener).
★•→•• Hawkins published by Big Life/In All Seriousness Music Ltd.; Charles/Davis/Mitchener by PRS. Lyrics by the composers, except ‘UpRoot’ (Lyn Hejinian), ‘Environment Music’ (Emily Co), and ‘I’ll Meet You There’ (Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks).
★•→•• Recorded April 19, 20, 2017, at Fish Factory Studios, London, by Benedic Lamdin.
★•→•• Mixed by Benedic Lamdin. Mastered by Alex Bonney.
★•→•• Liner notes: Brian Morton. Photos: Dawid Laskowski, Roberto Cifarelli.
★•→•• Cover art & graphic design: Jonas Schoder.
★•→•• Produced by Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener and Intakt Records, Patrik Landolt.
★•→•• This quartet represents the collaboration of two of the most distinctive voices of their generation, and stakes out a remarkable common ground from the pair’s vast range of influences and experience.
★•→•• The repertoire fuses Elaine Mitchener’s unique way with both melody and abstraction, with Alexander Hawkins’ idiosyncratic compositional and pianistic world; as well as spotlighting reimaginings of a small number of beautiful Jazz tunes which reveal the influence of precursors such as Jeanne Lee and Archie Shepp. Structurally, the group with Neil Charles on bass and Stephen Davis on drums function as complete equals, veering radically from the traditional norm of ‘singer plus rhythm section’, instead treating this as only one possible dynamic amongst many.
★•→•• Brian Morton writes in the liner notes: “This is music that speaks directly to our condition, our uprootedness and our strange fixities of purpose alike. It is clever and emotional. It comes out of jazz, and a whole lot else besides. Mathematicians have mostly done their great work by the age of 30. Musicians often continue to mature for decades. Here is a group, populated by some of our most singular and precious talents, whose greatest talent is to communicate, and whose music already bearthe signs of maturity and longevity.” — Intakt
Alexander Hawkins: Unit[e] review — dramatic improv with shape~shifting narratives.
John Fordham, Thursday 20 July 2017 18.30 BST / Score: ****
★•→•• Oxford~based keyboardist and composer Alexander Hawkins walks his own line between free~improv and contemporary-classical composition, when he isn’t touring as a world~music one~off with the veteran Ethiopian star Mulatu Astatke. A bold Hawkins balance of left~field dancefloor punch, abstract collective~improv sounds and cutting~edge composition fuels this double album, with one disc performed by the pianist’s regular sextet including Sons of Kemet stalwarts Shabaka Hutchings and Tom Skinner, the other by a 13~piece ensemble including trumpeters Laura Jurd and Percy Pursglove, and Danish free~sax original Julie Kjaer.
★•→•• The small band sometimes echoes Ornette Coleman’s avant~fusion Prime Time group, notably on the infectious, pounding [C]all and its tightly hooky, soulfully tenor~wailing second part. The large ensemble inhabits more remote sonic and rhythmic territories, but Hawkins’ guidance — in his dynamic control, and loose arrangements for flutes, bass clarinets, brass, strings and percussion — steers an improvised music full of dramatic and tonally colourful shape~shifting narratives that are sometimes like superheated free jazz, sometimes like surreal street parades.
•• Alexander Hawkins is a composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader who is ‘unlike anything else in modern creative music’ (Ni Kantu) and whose recent work has reached a ‘dazzling new apex’ (Downbeat). A largely self~taught improviser, he works in a vast array of creative contexts. His own highly distinctive soundworld is forged through the search to reconcile both his love of free improvisation and profound fascination with composition and structure.
•• His writing has been said to represent ‘a fundamental reassertion of composition within improvised music’ (Point of Departure), and his voice one of the ‘most vividly distinctive...in modern jazz’ (The Jazzmann).
•• As a pianist, he has been described as ‘remarkable...possessing staggering technical ability and a fecund imagination as both player and composer.’ Concerning his organ playing, critic Brian Morton recently commented that ‘[t]he most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [Hawkins] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’
•• An in~demand sideman, Hawkins continues to be heard live and on record with vast array of contemporary leaders of all generations, including the likes of Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, Mulatu Astatke, Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Marshall Allen, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Rob Mazurek, Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt, Matana Roberts, and Shabaka Hutchings, amongst many others. He has also been noted for a number of years for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo~Moholo.
•• In 2012, he was chosen as a member of the first edition of the London Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Soundhub’ scheme for young composers. He also received a major BBC commission in late 2012 for a fifty minute composition: One Tree Found was first performed and broadcast in March 2013, and was subsequently performed and broadcast for the WDR in Cologne (2014). He has also twice been commissioned by the London Jazz Festival (once as composer, once as an arranger), and by the Cheltenham Jazz Festival (2016). He was named ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ in the 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
•• Concert appearances have taken him to major club, concert and festival stages worldwide.
|Alexander Hawkins & Elaine Mitchener Quartet — UpRoot|