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Hawkins, Alexander Ensemble: No Now Is So (FMR)

Unusual instrumentation and a very diverse set of improvising backgrounds from pianist Alexander Hawkins Ensemble, with Orphy Robinson on steel pan, Otto Fischer on electric guitar, Dominic Lash on double bass, Hannah Marshall on cello, and Javier Carmona on drums.

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product information:

UPC: 649849983237

Label: FMR
Catalog ID: FMRCD270-0209
Squidco Product Code: 23024

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: UK
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Red Gables Studios, in London, England, on May 19th, 2008 by Dick Hammett.


Alexander Hawkins-piano

Orphy Robinson-steel pan

Otto Fischer-electric guitar

Hannah Marshall-cello

Dominic Lash-doublebass

Javier Carmona-drums, percussion

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Artist Biographies:

"Alexander Hawkins is a composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader who is 'unlike anything else in modern creative music' (Ni Kantu) and whose recent work has reached a 'dazzling new apex' (Downbeat). A largely self-taught improviser, he works in a vast array of creative contexts. His own highly distinctive soundworld is forged through the search to reconcile both his love of free improvisation and profound fascination with composition and structure. In 2012, he was chosen as a member of the first edition of the London Symphony Orchestra's 'Soundhub' scheme for young composers. He also received a major BBC commission in late 2012 for a fifty minute composition: One Tree Found was first performed and broadcast in March 2013, and was subsequently performed and broadcast for the WDR in Cologne (2014). He has also twice been commissioned by the London Jazz Festival (once as composer, once as an arranger), and by the Cheltenham Jazz Festival (2016).

An in-demand sideman, Hawkins continues to be heard live and on record with vast array of contemporary leaders of all generations, including the likes of Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, Mulatu Astatke, Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Marshall Allen, Rob Mazurek, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Harris Eisenstadt, amongst many others. He has also been noted in recent years for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo. Concert appearances have taken him to club, concert and festival stages worldwide."

-Alexander Hawkins Website (

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"Orphy Robinson (born 13 October 1960) is a British vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist,of Jamaican descent who also plays the saxophone, trumpet, drums, piano, marimba and steel pans. He has written music for television, film, theatre, opera and contemporary classical music. Robinson is from London, UK, and works across a variety of eclectic musical forms (jazz, free jazz, free improvisation, jazz fusion, and funk music)."

-Wikipedia (

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"Otto Fischer is a guitarist and songwriter based in Oxford, London, New York, and Lagos. Admired by Derek Bailey, his first album was released on Bailey's Incus label."

-Derby Jazz (

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"Hannah Marshall is a cellist who is continuing to extract and invent as many sounds and emotional qualities from her instrument as she can , playing experimental & freely improvised music and collaborating with other musicians, theatre and performing artists in the UK and Europe. She trained at The Guildhall school of music and Drama from 1992-1996. She plays regularly with The London Improvisors Orchestra and has performed at various festivals including VNM-Graz, Freedom of the City - London, Fete Qua Qua, Nickelsdorf-Konfrontationen, Banlieue Bleu-Paris, Jazz em Agosto-Lisbon, Barcelona Horta Cordel, ring ring-belgrade, Wels Unlimited- Austria, Alpen Glow - UK/Austria, Taktlos, Nantes festival, Saalfelden jazz festival, Red Ear Amsterdam, thirstyfish festival - London, Konfrontationen, Akouphene-Geneva, Europa Jazz Festival, Joyful Noise Festival- Swtizerland, Blurred Edges Festival- Hamburg. She has been invited by Fred Frith, Thomas Lehn and Suichi Chino in their residencies at café Oto, and by Evan Parker in his monthly residency at The Vortex Club."

-Music Teachers UK (

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"Born Cambridge, England, in January 1980; played bass guitar since 1994; studied with Hugh Boyd and Pascha Milner and at Basstech (London) with Rob Burns, Terry Gregory and others. Played double bass since 2001; basically self taught, with grateful thanks to Simon H. Fell. First class BA in English Literature from Oxford University (2002). Received MA Composition from Oxford Brookes University in 2003, having studied with Paul Whitty, Ray Lee and others. Received PhD from Brunel University in 2010, having studied the work of Derek Bailey, Helmut Lachenmann and JH Prynne and been supervised by Richard Barrett and John Croft."

-Dominic Lash Website (

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"Javier Carmona is a drummer and percussionist from Madrid (now settled in Barcelona after seven years in London), Javier is very active in the European free improvisation scene and has performed with musicians such as John Tchicai, Evan Parker, Carlos Zingaro and John Russell, among many others.

Member of several formations, Javier also collaborates with dancers Rosa Aledo and Saija Lehtola in Kicking Louise & Co., a dance company that has presented work in France, Cyprus, Spain and England.

Organizer of FIL Malaga, a festival of free improvised music including performances and workshops, Javier has also led student workshops about free improvisation in Newport University (with Kamil Korolczuk), Westminster University (with Sakoto Fukuda) and Huddersfield University (with Ingrid Laubrock and Olie Brice).

Co-founder alongside graphic designer and electronics player Kamil Korolczuk of Oso Records, a netlabel of free downloadable music focused on releasing various types of experimental music."

-Javier Carmona Website (

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track listing:

1. Prelude (Unidentified Spanish Bebop Selection #1) 5:57

2. Sarah Teaches Kirsty To Read 5:28

3. Boobabs 6:57

4. Nuru Light: The Prince Of Peace 6:25

5. Whirligig 2:17

6. 120:4 3:55

7. Toc/Tic/Kiss 2:05

8. Old Time Folk Music From Oxford 5:06

9. Love In Outer Space (Aka 'Unknown Kohoutek') 6:12

10. Greenford Breakdown 1:52

11. Cowley Road Strut: Message From The East (For Pat Thomas) 3:53

sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"So now, here is a recording of musicians of almost ludicrously diverse backgrounds, but all of them circling around the ultra-creative UK free improvisation scene. Maybe that'sthe first thing to say: most ensembles trying to mix pre-composed and free-improvised material generally fall on their arses at one or the other. If that were true of this recording, someone else would be writing the sleeve-notes. (You know who you are).

Apart from the strong and enthusiastic leadership of Hawkins, the group is very much defined by what it lacks instrumentally; the absence of blown instruments means that the hit, plucked and bowed timbres leak into each other (think of those recordings of Dylan with The Band or folk groups of similar instrumental families) and create the subtlest tone colours. Some of these things pass by even a well-eared listener surrounded by devoted experts in an environment like The Vortex. All the more reason to listen to this.

The eruption of that unison/octave theme statement of Leo Smith's beautifully simple tune (track 4) really lifted me and recalled something from Messiaen's book of statuesque tropes. (Still awaiting that resurrection, Olivier). I love the ritualistic reappearances of the melody, too.

Other things that propel me upwards include the runaway train feel of that first track. Iwonder where Orphy's total fearlessness comes from.

'Cowley Road Strut' is dedicated to Pat Thomas, a mutual friend and colleague who directed me, Roger Turner and The Shakin' Ray Levis to some of the best fish and chipsever, one drizzly night on, of course, Cowley Road in Oxford. Pat's theories of the originof jazz are as interesting as his devotion to Oxford and its cultures. The "wonky march" feel of this in no way reflects on his gait, I'm sure.

Track 8 is probably post-titled, being another instant composition and a piano solo. Hawkins says, "Pat is convinced there is an 'Oxford' sound, so being Oxford born and bred, I suppose I should have it?" You may very well think that, but this Shropshire lad could not, of course, possibly comment. Instead I drifted into a fugal state whilst listening, imagining Anton Webern having a glass of wine with Duke Ellington, thereby avoiding the sniper's bullet.

"I'm such a fan of Otto's.... meandering-but-logical thing, I just wanted to create a vehicle for him to blow over", Hawkins writes, also suggesting plausible convergences between Otto and Warne Marsh. So, in the trad of Duke Ellington's miniature concerti, here is '120-4', which includes no piano whatsoever but lots of Fischer, inside three choruses of 120 crotchets each.

'Sarah Teaches Kirsty To Read', in contrast, inspired a fantasy of a coffee break including Bill Frisell, Conlon Nancarrow and Brian Ferneyhough and includes a glorious exam-ple of Hannah Marshall's 'cello playing, instantly explaining why everyone wants to playwith her.

In common with Paul Bley, Hawkins is a big admirer of Sun Ra's piano playing and 'LoveIn Outer Space' is a Ra tune given a treatment mildly reminiscent of Miles Davis's wayof playing Wayne Shorter's 'Nefertiti'. In other words, the tune is played a lot, with different stuff going on each time. Dominic Lash's bass and Javier Carmona's drums per-form delightfully conventional roles here; elsewhere, their improvising personae are happily upsetting apple-carts and expectations. Which, come to think of it, is true of all of these people."-Steve Beresford

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
European Improvisation and Experimental Forms
Free Improvisation
Sextet Recordings
FMR Records

Other Releases With These Artists:
Decoy (Alexander Hawkins / John Edwards / Steve Noble) With Joe McPhee
Dunmall, Paul Nonet The
Interpretations of Beauty
Thomas, Pat / Dominic Lash / Tony Orrell
BleySchool [VINYL]
Eisenstadt, Harris (w/ Wooley / Hawkins / Niggenkemper)
Canada Day Quartet Live
(Clean Feed)
Kraabel, Caroline
Last1 And Last2
Hawkins, Alexander
Iron Into Wind
Valid Tractor (Pat Thomas / Dominic Lash / Lawrence Casserley)
On The Validity Of Tractors
Houle, Francois / Alexander Hawkins / Harris Eisenstadt
You Have Options
Seen, The
Archive : Volumes Vi - X : 2014 To 2016
Frey, Jurg / Magnus Granberg
Early to Late
(Another Timbre)
Holy Quintet, The (Change / Drouin / Lash / Lazardiou / Ryan)
(Mikroton Recordings)
Chessex, Antoine / Apartment House / Jerome Noetinger
"Plastic Concrete" / "Accumulation"
(Creative Sources)
Tin (Dominic Lash / Axel Dorner / Roger Turner)
Uncanny Valley
Cundy, Chris
Gustav Lost
Weston, Veryan / Jon Rose / Hannah Marshall
Tuning Out [2 CDs]
Moholo-Moholo, Louis Quartet (Hawkins / Edwards / Yarde)
4 Blokes
Moholo-Moholo, Louis Unit
For the Blue Notes
Beuger, Antoine
Cantor Quartets [2 CDs]
(Another Timbre)
Watt: Smith / Marshall / Flinn
Alter Egos
(Creative Sources)
Malcolm, Nick Quartet
Weston / Laubrock / Marshall
Ward / Hill / Lash / Sanders
BARREL (Blunt / Kallin / Marshall)
Gratuitous Abuse
Convergence Quartet, The
Live In Oxford
CHANGES TO blind + Blue Sausage Infant

(Intangible Arts)
Moholo-Moholo, Louis Unit
An Open Letter to My Wife Mpumi
Russell, John
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