Billy Hart Quartet | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Billy Hart Quartet 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Fri., June 13, 9:30 p.m. and Sat., June 14, 9:30 p.m. 2014

At age 70 jazz drummer Billy Hart is a bona fide elder statesman, and he funnels his five decades of diverse experience into his excellent working quartet with pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Ben Street, and saxophonist Mark Turner—some of whom are half his age. The group’s third and best album, this spring’s One Is the Other (ECM), is a brooding, lyrical session that draws liberally from modern jazz history but sounds undeniably contemporary. It opens with a 90s number by Turner, “Lennie Groove,” which takes inspiration from pianist Lennie Tristano (particularly in the unison sixteenth-note melodies the saxophonist plays with Iverson) but adds clave patterns from Cuban music in the rhythm section. On Iverson’s bluesy ballad “Maraschino,” Hart and Street maintain a different sort of tension with the front line—the bittersweet out-of-tempo feeling that Paul Bley or even Ornette Coleman can create. Hart’s smoldering “Teule’s Redemption” encapsulates the dominant feel of the album: thoughtful, patient, and gracefully melodic, but with a perpetual tug of harmonic and rhythmic turbulence. Iverson, who’s best known from the Bad Plus, can bring out the best in his bandmates—just as he’s done for Hart in this quartet, he’s shaped the perfect context for drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath in a trio with Street. And he’s given Turner one of the most fertile settings he’s ever had for the full range of his harmonically sophisticated playing. Based on what I saw from this band at the 2012 Chicago Jazz Festival, I expect them to inject plenty of extra fire into this gorgeous material—I’m especially hoping to hear what they’ll do with their dramatic reading of “Some Enchanted Evening.” —Peter Margasak

Price: $15