Billy Hart

Sept. 1 - 2012

It’s not often that an artist of drummer Billy Hart’s stature – he’s accompanied such greats as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and Charles Lloyd – achieves an artistic breakthrough in his seventies. But that’s precisely what Hart has done with his 2012 album, All Our Reasons, easily his best recording under his own name. Today, he’ll lead the cross-generational, all-star quartet featured on recording, including tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Ben Street.

As a drummer, Hart eschews flashy strokes, splashy cymbals and other crowd-pleasing effects for a coloristic, texture-minded, oceanic sound. Those qualities extend to All Our Reasons, which departs the free-boppish attack of this band’s 2005 effort, Quartet, for starkly beautiful reflections, dreamy extended melodies and exploratory reworkings of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin.”

Turner, whose powerfully understated style also can be heard in the cooperative trio Fly, and Iverson, who commands the sonic assaults of the Bad Plus, are two of the most influential players of their generation. When they first hooked up with Hart in 2003, the band was under their dual leadership. That they have acceded to his authority, while still providing much of the band’s original material, tells you all you need to know about the respect commanded by the big-hearted Mr. Hart.

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