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Alexander Hawkins

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble

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I'm travelling for some gigs this week, so in case of not getting to a computer, I thought I'd just post some advance warning of a programme I recorded with my Ensemble for Radio 3 last year, if anyone's interested. It's going out on the Jazz on 3 programme at 11.15pm UK time on Monday 15th February (and will also be available to 'listen again' for a week). The end of the show also includes a solo set from Joe McPhee, which - the bits I've heard - sounds fantastic.

I'm really delighted with how the session came out, and feel that we began to go to some places we didn't get to on the album. There are tunes from the album, as well as some new compositions. Also 'covers' of tunes by Braxton, Oliver Lake/Jerome Cooper, and possibly Sun Ra...

Please enjoy!

p.s. while I'm at it - can I recommend this week's show too? It is a live recording of a gig from Craig Taborn's trio...I was lucky enough to be at the show, and it was storming.

Edited by Alexander Hawkins

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Congrats! That's pretty high profile for UK jazz coverage. I'll make sure to listen again later in the week.

Is Jez Nelson a decent bloke? I'd say so, from his enthusiasms and on-air personality but then one never really knows. I was a huge Andy Kershaw fan, but his inner demons took over, sad to say.

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Is Jez Nelson a decent bloke?

Sat right behind him at the Henry Grimes Cheltenham gig last year (he was doing the intros).

Will be tuning in to the show tonight, all being well. :tup

Edited by sidewinder

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Congrats! That's pretty high profile for UK jazz coverage. I'll make sure to listen again later in the week.

Is Jez Nelson a decent bloke? I'd say so, from his enthusiasms and on-air personality but then one never really knows. I was a huge Andy Kershaw fan, but his inner demons took over, sad to say.

Thanks - I really enjoyed doing the show. I have to say - Jez was definitely a nice guy. Very much as he comes across on the radio, I thought! Great taste too - a *real* Sun Ra fan!

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I've just finished listening to this excellent session - congrats to Alex and the ensemble for such an intriguing, challenging yet accessible set of performances. It was good to hear some of the tunes from the album played anew with new perspectives revealed. This Ensemble really does, to my ears, have a unique sound - the combination of strings with the piano and pans moves the focus back and forth between the lead and 'accompanying' instruments. There seems a rigorous integrity to the playing throughout that doesn't make the music in the least studied but seems to open the way for composition and improvisation to work together to provide both a depth and lightness to the tunes - it's got toe-tapping, head-nodding groove throughout. Kazoo magic!

I was pleased to hear mention of Henry Threadgill in the interesting chat before the session - some of my immediate reactions to the album had been to think of that Threagill 'wonky march' time but also the use of cello to underpin the ensemble in his Sextett (I'm off to hunt down Threadgill's X-75 after its mention - expensive I suspect). I've also been listening a lot to the Anthony Davis/Jame Newton/Abdul Wadud axis of groups and there seems a link to these here too.

Time to listen-again, again. Alex, please persuade the beeb to release the tapes to the public now - a week's not long enough

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Thank you for that! Those guys you mention are all real heroes for me...I love ANYTHING with Abdul Wadud in it, for sure...and that's really interesting you picked up on the Anthony Davis thing, because I have been listening to a lot of his music, and his playing with guys like Wadada etc. Leroy Jenkins is another guys whose writing I'm really trying to study at the moment...the tune we do on the session is obviously a relatively simply thing, but I'm really into his composition in general.

As for the tapes - I'm actually hoping to record the band again after a tour in July - I feel at this stage that there's enough new stuff 'in the book', and that the band has developed enough, to warrant another take on things...so watch this space!

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Just listened and enjoyed the programme thoroughly. Will be saving the session (for personal use only!).

Very interesting opening discussion...especially the Ellington. I have this on the RCA Centennial box and have hardly noticed it. Will be heading back that way again today!

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I was pleased to hear mention of Henry Threadgill in the interesting chat before the session - some of my immediate reactions to the album had been to think of that Threagill 'wonky march' time but also the use of cello to underpin the ensemble in his Sextett (I'm off to hunt down Threadgill's X-75 after its mention - expensive I suspect). I've also been listening a lot to the Anthony Davis/Jame Newton/Abdul Wadud axis of groups and there seems a link to these here too.

Well, I saw there are some vinyl copies of X-75 floating about for $25 or so. However, you might want to hold off for the Mosaic, which apparently will also have the unreleased X-75 (vol 2):Threadgill Mosaic. I'm a bit on the fence. I wasn't at all interested in the Braxton set, but this potentially has more appeal to me. I'll have to listen to the clips when they are available.

More discussion here (Threadgill thread)

Edited by ejp626

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Thanks for listening! Yeah, do check out that Rex Stewart session...I really love it. All the writing and playing...amazing. And Jimmy Blanton and Sonny Greer swing like absolute crazy throughout!

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Just listened and enjoyed the programme thoroughly. Will be saving the session (for personal use only!).

in the good old days of cassettes it was easy but now? possibly naive of me but how does one save such a session now(IT dinosaur alert!) ? I'd dearly love to be able to revisit this session many times

Edited by mjazzg

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I was pleased to hear mention of Henry Threadgill in the interesting chat before the session - some of my immediate reactions to the album had been to think of that Threagill 'wonky march' time but also the use of cello to underpin the ensemble in his Sextett (I'm off to hunt down Threadgill's X-75 after its mention - expensive I suspect). I've also been listening a lot to the Anthony Davis/Jame Newton/Abdul Wadud axis of groups and there seems a link to these here too.

Well, I saw there are some vinyl copies of X-75 floating about for $25 or so. However, you might want to hold off for the Mosaic, which apparently will also have the unreleased X-75 (vol 2):Threadgill Mosaic. I'm a bit on the fence. I wasn't at all interested in the Braxton set, but this potentially has more appeal to me. I'll have to listen to the clips when they are available.

More discussion here (Threadgill thread)

Thanks ejp. I've got nearly all of the threadgill slated for that box so X-75 is the missing piece of the jigsaw. May be worth the $ but postage to UK and possible import tax will take it nearer to $45 so will wait and see. I have now heard it via a blog and it is an intriguing set. FWIW there's some very good music in the Threadgill box and may well be worth coming off the fence for if you're into his idiosyncratic soundworld

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Just listened and enjoyed the programme thoroughly. Will be saving the session (for personal use only!).

in the good old days of cassettes it was easy but now? possibly naive of me but how does one save such a session now(IT dinosaur alert!) ? I'd dearly love to be able to revisit this session many times

There are a lot of programs out there that will record a program as you stream it, either as a .wav file or sometimes even as .mp3. I've had the best luck with TotalRecorder. Just a caution that if you start saving as .wav files, you will need to quickly convert or you will run out of hard drive space! (My favorite for manipulating .wav files is the the new version of CD Wave Editor which now lets you save output as MP3s)

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Just listened and enjoyed the programme thoroughly. Will be saving the session (for personal use only!).

in the good old days of cassettes it was easy but now? possibly naive of me but how does one save such a session now(IT dinosaur alert!) ? I'd dearly love to be able to revisit this session many times

I've sent a PM with a suggestion, mjazzg.

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The new Jazzwise dropped through the door today.

Big interview piece with Alexander there.

Will read later.

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very interesting read.

The comment about Threadgill "if you can't move to Threadgill, you may be clinically dead" made me laugh out loud with recognition - worthy of a T-shirt slogan

I'm very keen to hear the new album and how the different instrumentation works - superficially taking it closer to some of HT's ensembles

Alex, any date for release? will you be selling it direct as I've had some 'issues' with babel's online store?

Edited by mjazzg

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I'd never have guessed the Art Tatum obsession!

Interesting Guest chart too!

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I'd never have guessed the Art Tatum obsession!

Interesting Guest chart too!

no, me neither.

Heartened to see the Impressions in the chart (but can't quite spot and musical influence on the last album - 3 part harmonies on the new one, what odds?) and that Bob Stewart is an old fave of mine that I've not listened to for a while

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Thanks for the kind comments! I'll certainly have some copies, but it may also be worth trying the Babel site again - they have a new label manager, and consequently a new (and much improved!) website, which I hope should be easier than the previous! But when I have copies, I will certainly mention it...they should be back from the plant any day now, I gather... In fact, I think there is some slightly confusing editing in the Jazzwise piece - the new album is actually from the 'old' line-up...the references to the new line-up come I think from a live gig.

Re Tatum - yes, my hero! There have been a few compositions on previous albums with very oblique Tatum references, but true, I guess little 'explicit'! The Impressions - been listening to that compilation for a while now. Absolutely love it! Amazing arrangements, and Curtis Mayfield...well...

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Good to hear it's the 'old' line-up as it will be interesting to hear the development from first ensemble disc.

I notice Alex that you're playing soon with a quartet, Vole. Any clues as to what can we expect? Notice you're playing keyboards, not piano

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Vole was originally a trio of Roland Ramanan, Javier Carmona, and Roberto Sassi, but they just asked me to join them, which should be a lot of fun. Basically, a blend of (mostly extremely complex..!) notated heads, with a lot of very open improvisation in there too...very rhythmic...have rehearsed with them a couple of times, and it's an exciting band! They were always extremely tight as a trio, so it will be interesting to see how quickly we gel as a 4tet, but looking forward to the gigs for sure!

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Thanks, i'll see if I can make it to Flim Flam

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positive review of new Ensemble CD "All there, ever out" in the new Jazzwise - sorry online subscribers only get to read it if you've not got the paper copy....culminates with

"an affectionate tribute to the history of Jazz and a magnificent attempt to keep that history out of the mausoleum"

No mention on the Babel website as yet.

Is there a release date scheduled, Alex?

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