Billy Hart - All Our Reasons
(ECM 278 6631. CD review by Chris Parker)
Formed in 2003 as the Ethan Iverson/Mark Turner Quartet, but now appearing under drummer Billy Hart's name, and completed by Ben Street on bass, this band, on the evidence of this, its second album (the debut was released on HighNote in 2005), has settled straight into the ECM 'house style'.
Hart has been featured on the label since 1974, most frequently with Charles Lloyd's quartet, and there is a slightly Lloyd-ish feel to the album's opener, the drummer's 'Song for Balkis', Turner's meditative tenor warble riding over Hart's understated but robust mallet work.
The album overall, though, is unusually multi-hued, including compositions by pianist Iverson and Turner as well as Hart, and the second track, Iverson's 'Ohnedaruth' (Coltrane's spiritual name), uses the great man's 'Giant Steps' as a (discernible but cleverly disguised) springboard for a consistently absorbing four-way musical conversation.
As likely to feature jaunty funk and post-bop (though these terms are at best approximate, given the sheer individuality of the pieces) as freer moments and solo passages, All Our Reasons pushes the envelope of quartet jazz, allowing four masters of the unexpected free rein, and Turner and Iverson in particular (the
former demonstrating throughout his uncanny ability to fly through the fleetest of changes with deceptive ease, the latter more assertively inventive and multi-textured) take full advantage.
It is Hart, however, who is at the core of proceedings, versatile, resourceful, perfectly balancing power and delicacy, and meshing beautifully with the subtly vigorous Street to provide an intriguingly varied rhythmic foundation for a wholly original and continually surprising set.