Monday, April 01, 2019

Alexander Hawkins - Iron Into Wind (Pears From An Elm) (Intakt, 2019)

Pianist Alexander Hawkins is another one of the game-changing musicians on the burgeoning London jazz scene. He is a veteran of encounters with musicians like with Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith and Shabaka Hutchings, and has a number of recordings under his own name. This is a solo album that was recorded in Zurich in September of 2018, and it begins with “Song All the Way” which has droplets of medium tempo crystalline piano notes, sounding clear and crisp as they explore and probe the sound space. The music on “Congregational” is dark toned, slow and balanced against heartier chords that develop, allowing a dynamic to build and power the music forward. The tension that develops along with the percussive low-end chords resonates throughout the song. “Tough like Imagination” is open and spacey, with cascading light notes invoking thoughts of a spring shower, though the music grows gradually stronger and harder as Hawkins drives the piano into deeper and more intense territory, hammering the notes as the piece continues to evolve. Deceptively spare in its opening “Pleasant Constellation” gradually develops a low rumble, foreshadowing the tumult to come. Strong chords crash from the top down in a very dramatic fashion, where colliding slabs from the crushing bottom end meet cascading runs from the upper end of the piano. The music eventually breaks apart into free sounds that drift in space like wreckage from a cosmic collision. “Strange Courage” is a heavy tune from the beginning, with deep and loud notes and chords gathering pace and volume, and building block by block. The music rings in a strong and resonant fashion, vibrantly pushing a proud and strong message. Chords in space push “It Should Be a Song” down deep as skittish light notes rise up in response creating a broad and ravishing sound. The expansive nature of the piano creates a velvet curtain that hangs across the music which has a scent of classical music within. “Hard as Threads” comes on strong, heavy and fast like a rampage on the keys with hints of Cecil Taylor as Hawkins moves very quickly, developing rapid clusters of notes and swirls of dark low-end. They dynamic gusts of low concussions are the key foundation of this short but excellent piece of music. Light notes of quiet near whimsy are at play on “Tumble Mono” before things slowly grow louder and darker, and Hawkins develops a huge deep pulse, playing hard and heavy as the improvisation evolves. The way the music unfolds on this track shows a great control of narrative flow, taking the listener on a powerful and unpredictable voyage as it emerges. The concluding track “Etude” is a very impressive performance of high-speed technique, as waves of sound move out rapidly creating an anxious feeling, developing an over top pace that is powerful and ends the album with a flourish. Iron Into Wind (Pears From An Elm) - amazon.com

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