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Hawkins, Alexander Mirror Canon: Break A Vase (Intakt)

Another wonderfully ambitious and superbly executed album from pianist and composer Alexander Hawkins, with nods to Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill and even Johann Sebastian Bach, expanding his core trio of bassist Neil Charles and drummer Stephen Davis with saxophonist & clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, guitarist Otto Fischer and drummer Richard Olatunde Baker.

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product information:

UPC: 7640120193737

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: ITK373.2
Squidco Product Code: 31398

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels w/ booklet
Recorded at Challow Park Studios, in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, on July 27th and 28th, 2021, by Will Biggs.


Richard Olatunde Baker-Adamo (Talking Drum), percussion

Neil Charles-acoustic bass guitar, double bass

Stephen Davis-drums

Otto Fischer-electric guitar

Alexander Hawkins-grand piano, upright piano, sampler

Shabaka Hutchings-tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute

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Artist Biographies:

Richard Olatunde Baker: drums

"Born and raised in the UK of English-Nigerian parentage, I grew up listening to mostly African music and later developed a strong interest in various experimental / avant garde genres.

My musical journey began aged 11, as a self-taught guitarist, although I naturally gravitated towards drums during my early twenties. I was lucky to be trained by traditional Yoruba talking drum masters, many of whom featured on the records I'd listened to as a youth. I also worked with many other African Pro-percussionists in the 1990's. My drumming foundations are firmly rooted in playing frequently at all-night African community events and in African Theatre in the UK.

Notably, I'm an accomplished studio engineer/producer, having originally trained at London's old Matrix Studios network.

I gained priceless experience working with a wide array of top engineers, producers and major artists from around the world.

All my studio work is now freelance. In the current climate I now offer remote recording sessions.

I dedicate my working life to my two main passions: African Drumming and Music Technology, both of which I teach regularly. Artists I've worked with include" Tony Allen, Mulatu Astatke, Seun Kuti, Sting, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Natty, to name a few.

I love to perform, record, travel and share my enthusiasm with others."

-Richard Olatunde Baker Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"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 (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

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

-Squidco 10/3/2022

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"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 (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"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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"Shabaka Hutchings, a saxophonist, band leader and composer, part of London's community of younger jazz musicians as well as the city's thriving improvised music scene. For Hutchings, composition is a chronicle of the zeitgeist inhabited by a composer; an exposition of his or her search for meaning and the structuring of experiences in aid of recognising this meaning when it appears.

As part of the Caribbean diaspora, he sees his role as that of pushing the boundaries of what musical elements are considered to be Caribbean. Constantly evaluating the nature of his relationship with musical material and tradition, he describes his attempts at composition as wrestling matches with questions of where and how the Caribbean can be encoded, and what happens when it is exposed to the western classical music cannon.

Hutchings was born in 1984 in London. He moved to Barbados at the age of six, began studying classical clarinet aged nine and remained until sixteen. Shabaka's primary project is the group Sons of Kemet, which won the 2013 MOBO Award for Jazz Act of the Year. In June 2014 Shabaka was invited to join the Sun Ra Arkestra, performing with them and recording a session for BBC Radio 3. He has performed and recorded with Courtney Pine's Jazz Warriors, Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics, Polar Bear and Soweto Kinch. Some of the many notable musicians he has shared the stage with include Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra, Louis Moholo, Evan Parker, King Sunny Ade and Orlando Julius to name a few.

In 2010 Shabaka was granted the title of BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist which allowed him to undertake numerous commissions, as well as broadcast performances on radio. These included performances with Julian Joseph, the BBC Big Band, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (with whom he performed the Copland Clarinet Concerto in the Wales Millennium Centre). In 2012 he was commissioned to write a piece for the BBC Concert Orchestra which included members his own group (Sons of Kemet) and electronic musicians Leafcutter John and Jason Singh. This concert was received to critical praise at the South Bank's Queen Elizabeth Hall. In July 2013 Shabaka was commissioned by Leasowes Bank Music Festival to write a piece for clarinet and string quartet. He performed this piece with the Ligeti String Quartet to rave reviews (the Birmingham Post giving the concert 5 stars). Shabaka was nominated for Jazz Musician of the Year 2013 in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Shabaka was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Composer Award 2014 and the winner of the Jazz FM Instrumentalist of the Year 2015. Earlier in 2015, Shabaka also received a commission from the London Sinfonietta to write a 'note to the new government' and was Associate Artist for the Spittalfields Summer Festival. The second Sons of Kemet album, 'Lest we forget what we came here to do' was released in September 2015 on NAIM and the trio project, The Comet is Coming, featuring Shabaka, Dan Leavers, and Max Hallett, released it's first EP on Leaf Label in october 2015."

-Shabaka Hutchings Website (

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track listing:

1. The Perfect Sound Would Like to Be Unique 1:37

2. Stamped Down, or Shovelled 6:45

3. Sun Rugged Billions 4:30

4. Generous Souls 5:59

5. Faint Making Stones 6:06

6. Break a Vase 1:29

7. Chaplin in Slow Motion 6:22

8. Domingada Open Air 6:52

9. Stride Rhyme Gospel 6:31

10. Even the Birds Stop to Listen 3:25
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"After the album Togetherness Music, British pianist and composer Alexander Hawkins presents another musical panorama: An ensemble in which his trio with bassist Neil Charles and drummer Stephen Davis meets saxophonist and clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, guitarist Otto Fischer, and drummer Richard Olatunde Baker.

For anybody who has followed Hawkins's work since his emergence on the British improvised music scene in the mid 2000's this is a fresh band full of familiar musicians with whom Hawkins has played in a wide variety of formations. The new pieces Break A Vase presents emerge from Hawkins' own imagination, but they also capture the thrust of energy in collaborating with these outstanding musicians.

"Hawkins gives one of his most complete performances to date," writes Kevin Le Gendre in the liner notes. "Nothing is perhaps more majestic than the title track, which comes from Derek Walcott's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize:

Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took it's symmetry for granted when it was whole.

Enjoy then all these wily bits and pieces that come together in the kind of daring, courageous construction that is made to last."-Intakt

"Pianist and composer Alexander Hawkins sequences the ten tracks of Break A Vase in a seemingly counterintuitive manner. The title track, which is taken from West Indian poet Derek Walcott's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, is not heard until track six; it is a solo piano performance which emulates Walcott's words, "Break A Vase, and the love that re assembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole." Hawkins' solo performance on grand piano with serrated bits of staticky samples urges concentration on his assembly rather than distraction. The brief track flows into a quartet performance of "Chaplin In Slow Motion" which is centered upon locomotion, both acceleration and deceleration.

Before we get to those two themes, Hawkins has constructed the container which he reduces to its constituent parts. This is indeed a branded Hawkins trait, evident in Togetherness Music (For Sixteen Musicians) (Intakt, 2021) and his past composing for The Convergence Quartet. He opens the disc with that same solo piano plus static before diving into "Stamped Down, Or Shovelled" with his trio, bassist Neil Charles and drummer Stephen Davis, augmented by electric guitarist Otto Fischer, percussionist Richard Olátúndé Baker, and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. The composition's character is a salute to the music of Henry Threadgill with its quirky time signature and singular logic. Elsewhere, Hawkins weaves a complex DNA strand with "Generous Souls" not unlike the patterns one might hear in a Steve Lehman composition. He allows room for Hutchings to solo over the percussive turbulence here and with "Stride Rhyme Gospel." These compositions are the vase Walcott spoke of that gets smashed, only to come together to form a stronger whole."-Mark Corroto, All About Jazz

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

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
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