Wed, June 18, 2014
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2014-06-18 8:00 pm
Billy Hart Quartet at Yoshi's Oakland
William “Billy” Hart (born November 29, 1940 in Washington, D.C.) is a jazz drummer and educator who has performed with some of the most important jazz musicians in history.
The quartet was formed in 2003, and originally billed as the Ethan Iverson/Mark Turner Quartet. When Billy Hart asked if it could be his band for a gig in his hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, the other members unanimously voted to give it him permanently. As the Billy Hart Quartet, the four musicians have continued to play a number of dates each year, often at New York’s Village Vanguard. In 2005 the group recorded a well-received debut album for hard-bop label High Note. Since then, as Ethan Iverson notes, the music has become more free and spacious, qualities that fit well with ECM’s priorities. “All Our Reasons” was recorded in June 2011 at New York’s Avatar Studios, with Manfred Eicher producing.
Billy Hart, of course, is no stranger to ECM, first recording for the label in 1974, with Bennie Maupin on the classic “Jewel In The Lotus”.
For ten years a member of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, he can be heard on Lloyd’s “The Call”, “All My Relations”, “Canto” and “Lift Every Voice” – influential albums all. Tenorist Mark Turner guested with Enrico Rava on “New York Days” in 2008, also recording with the Fly trio in that year on “Sky And Country” (a second Fly disc is in preparation). Pianist Iverson and bassist Ben Street make their first ECM appearances with “All Our Reasons”.
Billy Hart, Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner are all featured as composers on “All Our Reasons”. Hart’s “Song for Balkis” begins the programme with an evocative drum solo, with Billy in freer mode, loosely swinging but also with a roiling sense of unpredictability which engages his fellow players – each of whom plays differently, and often rather beautifully - in this context. Mark Turner says of playing with Hart: “I feel I have more trust in myself and more trust in the beat than I would in other situations, and it has helped me grow a lot as a musician.”
The second ECM album by the Billy Hart Quartet is a major musical statement, and one of the outstanding jazz albums of the season. The group’s reach – already broad on 2011’s widely-acclaimed All Our Reasons – is yet more expansive here. Strong compositions – by leader-drummer Billy Hart, tenorist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson – reflect upon a wide swathe of the music’s history, and are distinguished by vivid and imaginative solos and wonderful interplay. A basic premise, that this should be a band in which the vastly-experienced Billy Hart gets to play everything he wants to play, has led to a sense of almost unlimited possibility for all participants. There is freedom and joy in this music, and tenderness, too.
Yoshi's Oakland, 510 Embarcadero West