Billy Hart Quartet – One Is The Other – ECM Records ECM 2335, 51:31 [Distr. by Universal] ****: (Mark Turner – tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson – piano; Ben Street – doublebass; Billy Hart – drums) Billy Hart is a versatile veteran drummer who has moved through various drumming styles from straight-ahead time keeping with the likes of Jimmy Smith and the Montgomery Brothers to the more complex rhythmic demands of Herbie Hancock’s Sextet and Miles Davis. Now in his 70s, this latest band keeps him in the forefront of jazz frontiers with drumming that is texture- driven and emotionally flexible. The set list is all originals from various members of the band with the exception of the Rodgers and Hammerstein composition “Some Enchanted Evening” from the Broadway musical South Pacific. Piano legend Lennie Tristano is the muse behind the opening track “Lennie Groove” which starts with a long solo movement from pianist Ethan Iverson and then evolves into an interesting structured groove with a changing rhythmic caress. “Maraschino” is fueled with creative intensity, opening with a brief solo from Hart intricately played, and then given over to Turner’s tenor saxophone to complete the potent piece. Billy Hart offers three of his own compositions in sequence starting with “Teule’s Redemption” then “Amethyst” and finally “Yard” each of which confirms that Hart can deliver the goods with pieces that are rhythmically self-sustaining showing that he continues to be an attentive and vital drummer. Within this group “Amethyst” has an inquisitiveness that is appealing and there is some smart free-form interplay between Hart and Iverson. “Yard” has a suggestion of Thelonious Monk’s piano lines from Iverson, with Turner overlaying some penetrating tenor saxophone sounds. While one might suspect “Some Enchanted Evening” could be out of context in the session, it proves not to be the case. With Iverson’s light piano touch in the background, Turner runs through the melody with grace, which is then picked up by Iverson as Turner overlays some complex improvisation. All in all, the piece is given a most sympathetic reading. This is a self-possessed and harmonically literate band. TrackList: Lennie Groove; Maraschino; Teule’s Redemption; Amethyst; Yard; Sonnet For Stevie; Some Enchanted Evening; Big Trees —Pierre Giroux
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