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Alexander Hawkins

Alexander Hawkins is musician who is ‘unlike anything else in modern creative music’ (Ni Kantu) and whose recent work has reached a ‘dazzling new apex’ (Downbeat).

As a pianist, he has been described as ‘remarkable...possessing staggering technical ability and a fecund imagination as both player and composer.’ Concerning his organ playing, critic Brian Morton recently commented that ‘[t]he most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [Hawkins] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’

His writing has been said to represent ‘a fundamental reassertion of composition within improvised music’ (Point of Departure), and his voice one of the ‘most vividly distinctive...in modern jazz’ (The Jazzmann).

An in-demand collaborator as well as soloist, composer, and bandleader, 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, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Rob Mazurek, Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt, Matana Roberts, and Shabaka Hutchings, amongst many others. He has also been noted for a number of years for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo.

Concert appearances have taken him to major club, concert and festival stages worldwide.

“…Hawkins is a really vital link in a long historical chain, and his ability to sculpt his own language from a deeply rooted creative bedrock is compelling” - Jazzwise

“Sounds like all the future jazz you might imagine without ever being able to conceive of the details” - The Guardian

Featured releases

Two totally infectious sets from Decoy - the trio of John Edwards, Steve Noble and Alexander Hawkins - reunited with pocket trumpet and saxophone player Joe McPhee on the closing night of his four day residency at Cafe OTO. In the eight years between the recordings which make up ‘AC/DC’ and their last release ‘Spontaneous Combustion’, Decoy and each of its members have been practicing individually at the very top of their form. Coming together again in such celebratory circumstances and in the good company of a fantastic crowd set the scene for a very special night.  As they begin, Alexander Hawkins casts a needling surface between his Hammond organ and John Edwards’ loose splatters and slaps of low end bass. McPhee skitters over them with his pocket trumpet by way of introduction; Steve Noble strikes his rims in anticipation. The mood in the room is that of a rock band reformed, of a certain number of “boys” being “back in town”. The first set sees moments of frenetic free jazz peel off into weirdo soul territory and when switched to saxophone halfway through, McPhee’s romantic lyricism is utterly beautiful. When a groove sets in, Hawkins’ B3 ascension in harmony with an ever powerful Edwards-Noble rhythm section sees the room thicken and swirl to the point of giddiness. There is one unreal part at 22:22 where we’re sure you can hear Edwards’ bass vocalising.  Regrouped for a second set, Steve Noble’s metallic textures meld with detuned arco bass to create an unholy atmosphere, ripe for Hawkins to play out the eerier end of the Hammond. When McPhee sounds a sax motif the band catches it quickly and it’s soon wickedly morphed and stretched by each player, recurring to absurdity in a stoned out funk free for all.  The whole recording bleeds enthusiasm and joyful imagination and is a brilliant document of an unforgettable evening. Decoy are a limitless band who play nowhere near enough. We cannot attest to them any more: Book them, buy this, go and see them if you can.   --- John Edwards / bass Alexander Hawkins / hammond b3 Joe McPhee / pocket trumpet, alto sax, voice Steve Noble / drums --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on Friday 10th May, 2019. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Artwork and layout by Oliver Pitt. Photos by Dawid Laskowski. Printed in an edition of 1000. OTOROKU023CD. 

Decoy with Joe McPhee – AC/DC

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