Monday, December 9, 2019

Francois Houle, Alexander Hawkins, Harris Eisenstadt, You Have Options

The in-tandem gathering of Francois Houle on clarinet, Alexander Hawkins on piano and Harris Eisenstadt on drums is significant, as is the flowering of such on the album You Have Options (Songlines SGL1628-2).

The album successfully straddles the realms of avant improvisation and jazz composition with three pieces by Houle, two by Eisenstadt, two by Hawkins and one each by Steve Lacy, Charles Ives (!), and Andrew Hill.

At times one is reminded of the Jarrett-Redman piano-clarinet doublings on the now rather ancient album Birth, but merely as a predecessor, not in terms of imitation.

This is primo New Music-Avant Jazz with excellent clarinet work from Houle and equally thoughtful and inventive contributions from Hawkins and Eisenstadt. It is one to grow into, for the more one listens the better it seems, at least to my ears. I believe most readers will feel the same if they give this one their attention.

All three artists have slowly and surely become central to the music without a lot of fanfare. Here they give us the unexpected yet nonetheless continue the winning ways we have come to expect from each in the past decade, give or take.

Very strongly recommended. Grab this one and listen!

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