Billy Hart – All Our Reasons – ECM Records 2248, 59:36 ****:
(Mark Turner – tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson – piano; Ben Street – double bass; Billy Hart – drums)
Billy Hart is an artistic drummer who is equally at home with straight forward time playing or embarking on an imaginative approach. It is this latter quality that comes to the forefront with his latest ECM release All Our Reasons.
In this second album with the same musicians, the nine tracks are all original material from the band members and tend to run to a more open approach of interpretation by the group. The disc starts with Hart’s composition “Song For Balkis” which opens with a subtle mallet drum solo by Hart. At close to thirteen minutes long, it provides plenty of space for each member to travel their own road, although there is a strong rubato section by the ensemble. A rather unlikely sounding song, ”Ohnedaruth” by pianist Ethan Iverson, which is based on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, demonstrates his technique which he delivers with perception and quality.
The integrative framework of each composition defines the boundaries that the musicians can explore. The bulk of the solo efforts are taken up by pianist Iverson and the tenor sax of Mark Turner and each demonstrates that they are fully capable of shouldering the burden. Turner’s playing is harnessed, but he instinctively knows where he should be. He has some lovely moments on “Nigeria” and “Wasteland”. Iverson again covers some magical musical ground with his work on “Duchess” where he seems to have found some inner tranquillity. He also uses his solo on the brief “Old Wood” to segue into Hart’s composition “Imke March” where the song begins and ends with a whistling melody that Hart claims he used to call his daughter back home from the playground.
This is a highly intellectual program of music with Billy Hart’s dynamic ability used to define the outcome.
TrackList: Song for Balkis; Ohnedaruth; Tolli’s Dance; Nostalgia For The Impossible; Duchess; Nigeria; Wasteland; Old Wood; Imke’s March
Rob Silverman: Drumology Vol 2; Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band: The Power Station Sessions – Autumn Hill Records
Two excellent percussion-inspired releases from an emerging jazz label.