By Seth Colter Walls
By Brett Koshkin
By Spencer Wilking
By Christina Black
By Calum Marsh
By J. Pablo
By Phillip Mlynar
By Jenna Sauers
Billy Hart Quartet, a stunner that might set your brain and pulse racing more than you want in this summer heat, features a band that started off as Iverson's before he, bassist Ben Street, and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner unanimously voted Hart leader in recognition of his seniority and the sizzle and spread of his beat. Though the ear is drawn to Turner as the only hornit helps that he's in top form, simultaneously cerebral and hard-chargingHart earns his billing by following the drummer's creed and dedicating himself to making everyone else sound good. One way to do this is by synching accelerations and suspensions of tempo to a solo's modulations, and Hart's quick response time on his own "Lorca" is a bracing example. His pieces tend to elicit the CD's most stirring and dramatic performances, but two tunes in everybody's fakebook are given novel, diametrically opposed twists: Turner opens Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" with an alarming fly swatter of an overblown low note, the theme appearing in recognizable form only at the end, whereas on Charlie Parker's "Confirmation," the theme is stated thrice with only slight variation, which takes up over two minutes and tricks you into believing that's all there's going to be the rest of the way. Then the fun begins, with Turner and then Iverson orbiting the highest intervals of Parker's changes for five minutes and no recapitulation of the theme at the endexcept in your head.
Roy Haynes was famous for being underrated so long he's now a little overrated. Hart, who's been around since the early '70s, when he was one of the drummers on Miles Davis's On the Corner, is merely underrated. Congrats to his younger bandmates if Billy Hart Quartet helps make him famous for it.
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