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Hawkins, Alexander / Elaine Mitchener Quartet (w / Neil Charles / Stephen Davis) : UpRoot (Intakt)

Oxford-based keyboardist and composer Alexander Hawkins balances free improv and lyrical jazz forms in a quartet with bassist Neil Charles, drummer Stephen Davis, and vocalist Elaine Mitchener, with both Hawkins compositions and pieces from Archie Shepp, Jeanne Lee, and Patty Waters, a beautiful balance that appeals to modern listeners steeped in the history.

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product information:

UPC: 7640120192976

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: ITK297.2
Squidco Product Code: 25219

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2017
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at Fish Factory Studios, in London, England, on April 19th and 20th, 2017, by Benedic Lamdin.


Neil Charles-doublebass

Stephen Davis-drums, percussion

Alexander Hawkins-piano

Elaine Mitchener-voice

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Artist Biographies:

"Neil Charles is a bassist, electronic producer and composer. He regularly performs, records and tours with numerous jazz, classical and contemporary music bands and ensembles like alex Hawkins, mingus big band, has played with Terence Blanchard, black top and is a member of the electro-acoustic jazz trio, Zed-U."

-Cafe Oto (

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Stephen Davis is an Irish-born, Belfast-based jazz/free-improv drummer and composer.

-Squidco 5/25/2022

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"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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"Elaine Mitchener is an experimental vocalist and movement artist whose work encompasses improvisation, contemporary composition, sound art, music theatre, physical theatre and performance art.

Born in East London to Jamaican parents, Elaine studied voice at Trinity College of Music, London and currently studies with Jacqueline Straubinger.

She has performed at numerous UK and European festivals, venues and galleries including Aldeburgh Music, London Contemporary Music Festival, 56th Venice Biennale, Wysing Arts, Café Oto (London), earsthetic (Brighton), Bluecoat (Liverpool), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Muziektheater Transparant (Antwerp), ULTIMA Festival (Oslo), SPILL Festival (Ipswich), La Monnaie (Brussels), Block Universe (London), White Cube (London), Whitechapel Gallery (London), Weserburg MOMA (Bremen), Hepworth (Wakefield), Wellcome Collection (London), and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London).

She has worked and performed in a wide variety of contexts with an array of leading musicians, composers, directors and visual artists including The Otolith Group, Deborah Warner, Christian Marclay, Apartment House, Steve Beresford, Irvine Arditti, Oliver Coates, Sonia Boyce, John Butcher, Attila Csihar, Rolf Hind, Dam Van Huynh, George Lewis, Alexander Hawkins, Tansy Davies, Phil Minton, Evan Parker, Alasdair Roberts, David Toop, Matt Wright, Brodsky Quartet, Jason Yarde, Barry Lewis, Sam Belinfante and Dai Fujikura.

Her production company Elaine Mitchener Projects has researched, developed, produced and toured or staged a number of projects including Industrialising Intimacy (with choreographer Dam Van Huynh, David Toop, George Lewis) which was premiered at Brighton's earsthetic; The Nude Voice (with Dam Van Huynh) which was commissioned for the Wellcome Collection London's THIS IS A VOICE exhibition; SWEET TOOTH, which has been presented as a work in progress at Aldeburgh Music and Bloomsbury Festival (London), and premiered in Liverpool in November 2017 in collaboration with Bluecoat, Stuart Hall Foundation, International Slavery Museum and Edge Hill University; 'I back... I neck... I face... I chest' which was commissioned by Sonia Boyce for her installation We Move In Her Way at London's ICA; Of Leonardo da Vinci (with Dam Van Huynh, David Toop, Barry Lewis) which was premiered at Oslo's ULTIMA Festival; the three hour durational performance [NAMES] premiered at Ipswich's SPILL Festival; and a presentation of John Cage's SongBooks for London's Poetry In The City Festival.

Elaine has participated in residencies at Aldeburgh Music (to develop SWEET TOOTH) and Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Venice (where she developed Of Leonardo Da Vinci supported by Muziektheater Transparant). She is co-founder of experimental jazz quartet the Hawkins/Mitchener Quartet, whose debut album will be launched in November 2017. Recent performances include IRMA by Tom Phillips RA (dir. Netia Jones), a selection of songs by Julius Eastman both with Apartment House in Poland, and The Cave by Tansy Davies, with libretto by Nick Drake, and tenor Mark Padmore, commissioned by London Sinfonietta in association with the Royal Opera House (WP June 2018)."

-Elaine Mitchener Website (

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track listing:

1. Why Is Love Such a Funny Thing? 2:19

2. The Miracle 7:06

3. UpRoot 8:59

4. If You Say So 4:45

5. Blase 2:51

6. OM-SE - Environment Music 13:26

7. Joy 4:00

8. Directives - Walk Nicely - I'll Meet You There 6:11
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"This quartet represents the collaboration of two of the most distinctive voices of their generation, and stakes out a remarkable common ground from the pair's vast range of influences and experience. The repertoire fuses Elaine Mitchener's unique way with both melody and abstraction, with Alexander Hawkins' idiosyncratic compositional and pianistic world; as well as spotlighting reimaginings of a small number of beautiful Jazz tunes which reveal the influence of precursors such as Jeanne Lee and Archie Shepp. Structurally, the group with Neil Charles on bass and Stephen Davis on drums function as complete equals, veering radically from the traditional norm of 'singer plus rhythm section', instead treating this as only one possible dynamic amongst many.

Brian Morton writes in the liner notes: "This is music that speaks directly to our condition, our uprootedness and our strange fixities of purpose alike. It is clever and emotional. It comes out of jazz, and a whole lot else besides. Mathematicians have mostly done their great work by the age of 30. Musicians often continue to mature for decades. Here is a group, populated by some of our most singular and precious talents, whose greatest talent is to communicate, and whose music already bearthe signs of maturity and longevity."-Intakt

"Since the mid-2000s, British pianist, composer, Alexander Hawkins (Evan Parker, Chicago/London Underground) has become a force to be reckoned with, largely within Europe's exploratory progressive jazz and improvising circles. As a collaborator and solo artist, the pianist transmits a distinctive line of attack, where melody and free-form extrapolations enjoy a happy coexistence. On this studio set, he teams with notable performance artist, abstract vocalist and fellow Brit, Elaine Mitchener (Phil Minton, George Lewis) for a semi-structured set highlighted by the quartet's deconstruction of some standards and free-jazz sax icon Archie Shepp's, "Blasé."

The album is loaded with alternating flows, variances in pitch, pensive interludes, frenetic pulses, swelling cadenzas and loosely organized subplots, enamored by the vocalist's adventurous scat phrasings and velvety singing. Otherwise, "OM-SE Environment Music" is the lengthiest track at 13:23, spiced with drummer Stephen Davis' trickling rim-shots, rumbling tom-tom patterns, and enlivened by Mitchener's free-flight and lithely executed vocalizations.

Hawkins' builds tension amid his ascending block chords and melodic intervals that tender a flock of disparate tonal contrasts as the quartet becomes emboldened via its free-form rampages, along with several aberrations of the primary harmonic components. Yet the venomous plot subsides when bassist Neil Charles takes a solo spot, guiding his cohorts into a lightly swinging groove that ends in a whisper. Hence, the musicians' cross numerous musical domains during this exhilarating program that broadcasts a host of persuasive viewpoints and fractured subsets of established paradigms."-Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

Get additional information at All About Jazz
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation and Experimental Forms
Quartet Recordings
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Song Based Music
Unusual Vocal Forms

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