Saturday, May 16, 2020

Alexander Hawkins and Tomeka Reid - Shards and Constellations (Intakt, 2020)

Pianist Alexander Hawkins and cellist Tomeka Reid bring a rich history into their duet session, with each musician well versed in jazz, classical and freely improvised music. This makes for a surprisingly varied and intricate program of music, with each musician making the most of their instrument. Half of the performances on this album were developed completely through improvisation, employing differing measures of hue and texture in real time to create fascinating off the dome structures. Reid is a joy to hear bowing long hypnotic tones or short bursts of sound while also plucking her instrument to provide bass or guitar like accompaniment. She gained much of her experience after moving to Chicago and joining the AACM, so it is no surprise to hear two tracks by Association legends Muhal Richard Abrams and Leroy Jenkins secure pride of place on this album. Hawkins is an excellent pianist, adept at creating languid impressionistic soundscapes as well as diving into freely improvised sections and providing ample support for some of Reid's more daring flights. His development was something of a mirror image of Reid's receiving his post-graduate education so to speak playing with European avant jazz masters like Evan Parker, Jon Surman and Han Bennink. Together, Reid and Hawkins are able to conjure some delightful moods that range from a lilting, near spiritual ballad to more experimental fare that sees both musicians stretching themselves from mirrors within mirrors levels of abstraction to fast paced duo chase sections. Though they come from different scenes it is the pull of jazz and the lure of improvisation that pulls these two musicians together. Together they are able to create a very good album, one with a sense of adventure that looks beyond boundaries and heeds the call of exploration. Shards and Constellations -

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