The Billy Hart quartet with Mark Turner, Ben Street, and me has our second album out ECM, One Is the Other.
We are at Birdland this week Tuesday through Saturday. Please brave the endless winter and come out! Billy loves signing CDs if you can chase him down.
If the BHQ doesn't appeal, then there so much other great jazz in the clubs this week: Barry Harris, Ray Drummond and Leroy Williams at the Vanguard; Donald Harrison, Ron Carter, and Billy Cobham at the Blue Note; something new every night as Smalls, Shapeshifter, and many other venues. I've heard the weather has really hurt business everywhere, so if you are on the fence jump off of it and support live music, everyone needs your support.
The BHQ is doing a European tour in May and virtually our first domestic Midwest and West Coast plays in June. More on that later.
Several months ago I quickly jotted the below as potential liner notes or press release for One Is the Other.
Lennie Groove (Turner) Mark Turner’s melding of Tristano and clave was recorded years ago on the early Turner album In This World. Since then, it has become a classic, with many musicians trying their hand at its stunning complexities: odd meter, unusual bass line, fast doubled melody. My intro suggests Tristano sped up and spun out.
Maraschino (Iverson) The blues may come in any and all colors. Perhaps a wisp of Paul Bley is here, along with collective free improvisation that strives for structural integrity. Billy Hart’s brushwork is masterful, so swinging yet without any clear pulse.
Teule’s Redemption (Hart) This was written for one of Billy Hart’s sons, a two-part work that eventually allows Ben Street and Hart to work closely on a powerful groove. Turner’s solo takes flight.
Amethyst (Hart) This unusual through-composed piece is another gateway to free improvisation. At one moment Hart and I are left to ourselves, allowing cubist patterns to repeat and develop.
Yard (Hart) He was there, right on the scene, when jazz began embracing the even-eighth note as a legitimate resource. This blues connects Charlie Parker with all those grooves Hart played with Jimmy Smith, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and so many others. The fierce abstraction achieved by every member of the group attests to a long working relationship.
Sonnet for Stevie (Turner) A swing piece for Stevie Wonder shows moody restraint, although the form is deceptively complex. Hart joked after listening to playback, "It's like Kind of Blue."
Some Enchanted Evening (Rodgers/Hammerstein) This group doesn’t play many standards, but in this case Hart (who loves musicals) wanted something for almost for encore purposes, a gentle reframing of the familiar.
Big Trees (Iverson) Specifically written as a drum feature. The idea of “rhythm changes” lurks in the background but is quickly discarded by the ensemble. The drumming may momentarily suggest other masters like Ed Blackwell or Max Roach but in the end Billy Hart sounds like nobody but himself.