By Kira Grunenberg | Published April 2022
An intriguing connectivity exists between Alexander Hawkins Mirror Canon (the moniker for the particular lineup with which the pianist plays on his new album), “Break A Vase” (the album’s title track) and Hawkins’ reputation as a jazz improviser. These elements channel a delicate duality of clarity and explosive unpredictability, which thrives throughout the album’s 10 tracks.
“The Perfect Sound Would Like To Be Unique” opens the album with immediate, humorous self-awareness. Striking silences alternates between single, often low-register notes drowned in pedal reverb. This first track, which does seem to be searching for the “perfect sound,” establishes a contemplative space that suits the individual piece and the album’s overall themes. From there, the flutterings of notes from Shabaka Hutchings’ flute, the metallic flashes of bowed cymbal and the clacking percussion on “Sun Rugged Billions” seem to perpetuate this sonic search with and impulsive freneticism.
The title track returns to a reserved, piano-only introduction, similar to the opener. Subtle tone phasing applied to the decay of some notes gives the piece a distinctly modern quality, as do the dissonant chords, and a secondary, cyclical piano motif. It’s as though the titular vase endures under the unavoidable shards (in this case chords) left after its breakage.
Break A Vase: The Perfect Sound Would Like To Be Unique; Stamped Down, Or Shovelled; Sun Rugged Billions; Generous Souls; Faint Making Stones; Break A Vase; Chaplin In Slow Motion; Domingada Open Air; Stride Rhyme Gospel; Even The Birds Stop To Listen. (49:29)
Personnel: Alexander Hawkins, piano, sampler; Neil Charles, acoustic bass guitar, upright bass; Stephen Davis, drums; Shabaka Hutchings, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Otto Fischer, electric guitar; Richard Olátúndé Baker, adamo (talking drum), percussion.
Ordering Info: intakt.com