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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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BILLY HART

All Our Reasons

ECM 278 6631

 

 

  1. Song for Balkis
  2. Ohnedaruth
  3. Tolli's Dance
  4. Nostalgia for the Impossible
  5. Duchess
  6. Nigeria
  7. Wasteland
  8. Old Wood
  9. Imke's March
Mark Turner (tenor saxophone): Ethan Iverson (piano); Ben Street (bass): Billy Hart (drums)
rec. June 2011, Avatar Studios, NYC

This masterful quartet demonstrates the virtues of virtuosity leavened by allusion. The results are compelling examples of genuinely interweaving musical strands, beautifully recorded, that fashion themes and ideas to embrace reflective intimacy as well as more soulful expeditions.

Billy Hart, drummer extraordinaire, is the engine room fulcrum of activity. His restless, quivering presence is inspiring. Mark Turner plays beautifully; Ethan Iverson, of The Bad Plus, is ever inventive and bassist Ben Street, not to be overlooked, is the proverbial tower of strength.

Turner's coiling but lyrical solo on Song for Balkis is shadowed closely by Iverson, behind which the colouristic wash of Hart's drums floods the musical landscape with verdant life-quite free sounding, in places, but always controlled. The firefly aspect of Hart's percussive art is perhaps at its zenith in Nostalgia for the Impossible where Turner's soloing takes him to the uppermost slopes of his tenor range. Duchess has a gentle lyrical warmth at its heart; a quality that abounds and one that is never negated or contradicted by the more corrosive aspects the group can display. Perhaps the most orthodox and best example of quartet interplay is Nigeria, a brilliantly articulate foray unexpectedly punctured by a long drum solo. Iverson hints at neo-classicism in his pianistic explorations, though in a deliberately `hobbled' way, his left hand remaining pawky and jagged.

But it's invidious to select highlights. The music may perhaps echo some of the experiments of Charles Lloyd-which I use simply as a point of stylistic reference-but the game plan is entirely the quartet's. This is living and breathing contemporary quartet playing of the very highest class.

Jonathan Woolf



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