Thursday, April 12, 2012
Billy Hart Quartet, All Our Reasons
The Billy Hart Quartet has evolved since its origins in a hard bop mode around 2003. The newest album All Our Reasons (ECM B0016575-02) brings them into free-space territory.
It's an excellent platform for the talents of maestro Hart on the drums plus Mark Turner on tenor, Ethan Iverson, piano, and Ben Street, bass. Hart, Iverson and Turner all contribute compositions.
Iverson's "Ohnedaruth" works freely with the changes of Coltrane's "Giant Steps" in ways somewhat similar to what trumpeter Peter Evans has done with "All the Things You Are." That is, to follow the sequence of changes but in a very free way, thoroughly loosening up the rhythmic pulse at times and injecting a healthy creative freedom into the mix.
Billy Hart has always been a drummer who is both driving and very musical. I remember the feeling when I saw him with Mwandishi in 1972 that here was a player who didn't fall into the typical patterns to get through, but rather was filled with inventive ideas that worked well with whatever music was at hand. He has only gotten more profound in this way as he has matured over the years. You can just listen to him on this album and get plenty to enjoy and think about. But of course with Mark Turner's tenor and his controlled passion, Ethan Iverson's well-thought-out pianism, Ben Street's solid, musically astute anchorage and the engaging original compositions to be had here, there is a total experience.
It is music that freely engages virtually everything in the players' individual jazz arsenals, but also makes for a group effort in the best sense. It may take a few plays to get into the spirit of the music, but you WILL know when you get there. And I suspect you will get there as I did. This is a jazz for today. Recommended.