Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The Billy Hart Quartet: A portrait
Here's my new TONY profile of the Billy Hart Quartet, based on an interview with Hart and Ethan Iverson, conducted back in February at Birdland. The occasion is All Our Reasons, the long-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to 2006's Quartet.
Hopefully it's not too evident in the writing, but I struggled a bit with this piece, mainly because I had so much I wanted to do justice to in such a confined space, not to mention a ton of exposition, aimed at the jazz novice. I also had an insightful, wide-ranging joint interview to draw on. I hope the subjects will pardon me if, in the end, I used less of their verbatim thoughts than I'd expected to. As I was working, I realized I was after a portrait more than a photograph, a way to convey the special camaraderie shared by Billy Hart and Ethan Iverson (and by extension, Ben Street and Mark Turner).
I hope to see the band live next week at Birdland (they're there from Tuesday, 4/3 through Saturday, 4/7). I've got my fingers crossed for the more meditative material from All Our Reasons, e.g., the sprawling mood piece "Song for Balkis" and the superbly unflashy drum feature "Wasteland." Nothing against the upbeat stuff; it's just that, to my ears, the band's sweet spot is a dusky sound space, like the distant rumble of an oncoming storm.
*Here's Ethan Iverson's interview with Billy Hart, which I mention in the piece.
*Here's a nice promo video dealing with the new record.
*Here's Nate Chinen's take on All Our Reasons. I'll heartily second "the dark shimmer of [Hart's] cymbals and the raspy catch of his snare."
*And here's a new Jazz Session interview with Mr. Hart. Haven't gotten a chance to take this one in yet, but I can't wait.