All There, Ever Out (Babel Label)

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble

Released April 9, 2012

The Guardian 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2012




The 30-year-old pianist Alexander Hawkins is the fastest emerging voice of his generation in the field of contemporary experimental UK jazz. Although he may be frequently bunched in with the various avant jazz/ improv scenes in this country, his music is beginning to also have more widespread appeal. Mentioned by four journalists in Jazzwise Magazine’s ‘who to look out for in 2010’ feature, word has spread of his various unique ensembles but none more so than this UK six piece. Featuring a young band of Otto Fischer on electric guitar, Hannah Marshall on cello, Dominic Lash on double bass, Javier Carmona on drums and percussion and the elder statesman of the crew Orphy Robinson on marimba, All There, Ever Out is the band’s second album, recorded for the Babel Label. The debut No Now is So was according to leading international archivist Francesco Martinelli in Point of Departure, “…one of the best discoveries of the Year” and Hawkins has also received plaudits for his Transatlantic Convergence Quartet (that also features bassist Lash as well as Anthony Braxton sideman Taylor Ho Bynum; the Hammond organ trio Decoy (‘redefines the words ‘shock and awe,’’ says Jazzwise); and for his stand out contributions to both Evan Parker’s trio through to the bands of Louis Moholo-Moholo and Mulatu Astatke.

On All There, Ever Out, Hawkins reveals how he is able to navigate between his free improvising spirit and a composer’s sense of architecture. As an artist he’s in a unique place: between the pre-bop traditions of Ellington and Tatum, through to Thelonious Monk and into the more ‘out there’ terrains of pioneering pianists-composers such as Paul Bley and Cecil Taylor. Add to that a wide spectrum of contemporary classical music, post-downtown New York jazz and underground rock that to create a fascinating brew that reveals an original artist who is thoroughly contemporary, but with a spirit and passion that’s entirely beyond the era of post-modern self- conscious irony.

“I think I’ve realized that having a stronger compositional voice doesn’t necessarily diminish the voice of the people playing the music…and in fact, that the opposite is sometimes true: that having a stronger compositional voice can showcase the individuality of the performers in a stronger light. I love the way that guys like Cecil, Wadada, Threadgill, Anthony Davis, Leroy Jenkins, Braxton, and Duke etc. have a compositional voice which is in many ways one and the same as their improvisational voice…” Throughout the recording, the ensemble acts as a palette of expansive light and shade, of fragments merging into unisons, the only concern being the expression of the whole. Hawkins also reveals some inspiring solo piano in the prelude to the track ‘Elmoic’, while on the track ‘AW/LJ’ Hawkins shows his creativity on B3 organ in a band serving up a Miles-like bitches brew punctuated by his splintered blues-driven organ grooves. Hawkins’ unique B3 organ playing has too been noticed, receiving an entry in the 75th Annual Downbeat Reader’s Poll in the organ category while also being named as, “the most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [he] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’ by the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD editor Brian Morton.

Track Listing:

1. Ologbo (double trio) (A. Hawkins) 07:30

2. Tatum Totem III (A. Hawkins) 04:28

3. Owl (friendly) _ A Star Explodes 10,000 Years Ago, Seen by Chinese Astronomers (A. Hawkins) 07:23

4. Aw/lj (differently) (A. Hawkins) 02:34

5. Ahab (A. Hawkins) 06:09

6. (Untitled free improvisation) (J. Carmona / O. Fischer / A. Hawkins / Lash / Marshall / Robinson) 05:57

7. Marta (O. Fischer) 06:10

8. Elmoic (A. Hawkins) 06:20

9. So Very, Know (A. Hawkins) 05:33


Alexander Hawkins: piano, Hammond organ (4)

Javier Carmona: drums and percussion

Otto Fischer: electric guitar

Dominic Lash: double bass

Hannah Marshall: cello

Orphy Robinson: marimba


Kir Downes: Hammond organ (9)

Recorded July 12 and 13, 2010 at Pinewood Studios, UK

Recorded and Mixed by Dave Moore

Mastered by Ben Turner

Layout: Paul Lewis

Design Concept: Otto Fischer

Photography by Alexander Hawkins


Alexander Hawkins’ name was all over the newcomers-to-watch lists last year – unexpectedly, considering how unflinchingly experimental the 30-year-old Oxford pianist and composer is. Hawkins clearly understands classical music and free-improv equally well, but also enjoys South African township jazz and even the sound of the Hammond organ. Jazz history is always an undercurrent to this remarkable session: Thelonious Monk’s knotty thematic style plays a major role, and there are connections to early piano genius Art Tatum, to bebop and the 1960s new wave. But the references have been absorbed so deeply that they never sound like quotations. Hawkins’ piano and Hammond organ are joined by bass and cello, electric guitar and marimba, and a Hammond-playing Kit Downes on one track. The Monkish opener lurches out of squealy bowed-strings improv into an ambiguous pulse in which the bass walks fast and the cello slow. Tatum Totem is a mix of guitar-noise textures and snatches of pre-bop swing. There are also passages of Hawkins’ bleepy-electronica Hammond sound, long classical cello swoops and a beautiful solo piano meditation (Elmoic) that shifts to another Monklike strut. The album is full of surprises, it rebalances premeditation and spontaneity, and Hawkins’ themes are genuinely memorable.

John Fordham (The Guardian)