35th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 13-16 October, 2022

Alexander Hawkins Trio

United Kingdom

Alexander Hawkins – p
Neil Charles – db
Stephen Davis – dr

British jazz pianist, organist, composer and bandleader Alexander Hawkins, dubbed one of the most distinctive voices of modern jazz, is already well-known to the Vilnius Jazz audience. In 2015, together with Italian saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano he performed a programme dedicated to American saxophone legend Steve Lacy, and in 2018 he presented a project inspired by a traditional Ethiopian song with Swedish vocalist Sofia Jernberg.

Now, the audience meets the pianist’s trio, which has already made its mark on contemporary jazz scene over the past decade. The trio has collaborated prolifically with saxophonist Anthony Braxton, the American modern jazz icon: in 2018, the ensemble played in London on his project, and later toured Europe with Braxton as his quartet, recording all the performances that have been compiled into a 13-album set. The Hawkins Trio also forms the core of the renowned English saxophonist John Surman’s Quartet.

Critics have likened the musicians’ sensitivity to each other’s impulses to the fluidity of mercury. The trio’s only album to date masterfully combines rationality and spontaneity. A new album is due early next year.

Alexander Hawkins is predicted the glory associated with the unrivalled innovators Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill. He deliberately abandoned his academic jazz studies to play what he likes and how he likes it. He studied law and criminology at Cambridge but managed to develop an astonishing playing technique and earn a reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative pianists and composers for his creativity and imagination.

He cites many of the pioneers of free jazz as his influences, with the American pianist Art Tatum as his main inspiration. Alexander’s musical career began with classical music and the organ. This later helped him to become one of the most interesting improvisers on the Hammond organ. His organ trio Decoy even attracted the interest of the eminent free jazz saxophonist Joe McPhee, who has joined the group’s projects several times.

Hawkins has expressed himself in an extraordinary variety of ways, combining a distinctive compositional style with free improvisation, mesmerising the jazz world with his unique playing technique. He plays in ensembles ranging from duos to large ensembles, performs as a soloist, as well as composes and arranges music for well-known ensembles.

In 2012, Hawkins was one of the young composers selected for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Experimental Programme and was commissioned to compose an almost hour-long composition for BBC Radio. He has arranged for the London Dedication Orchestra, and has composed for the London, Berlin and Cheltenham jazz festivals, the Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin, and the contemporary music group Riot Ensemble.
In 2016, he was named Instrumentalist of the Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and in 2018 he was awarded a scholarship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy.

Hawkins has performed and worked in recording studios with a great number of the leading contemporary improvisers of different generations, including Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, Marshall Allen, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Rob Mazurek, Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt, Shabaka Hutchings, Michael Formanek, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts, Esperanza Spalding, Jonny Greenwood and Angelika Niescier. He is also known for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo.

The virtuoso has recorded some 30 albums as a leader and co-leader and has toured the world’s biggest festivals and music clubs. This autumn alone, he is touring internationally as a member of the bands of Ottaviano and the Canadian clarinettist François Houle, and with the American cellist Tomeka Reid, as well as performing in European festivals and jazz clubs with various duo partners and large ensembles.

Neil Charles graduated as classical double bassist from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He regularly performs, tours and records with jazz, classical and contemporary music bands and ensembles, has his niche in pop genres, and is not only one of the most in-demand musicians, but also a record producer and composer.

He has played in the legendary Mingus Big Band, the groups of Jack DeJohnette, Byron Wallen, Jose James, Jerry Dammers, Courtney Pine and Terence Blanchard. He is the founder and the leader of the electro-acoustic free jazz trio, Zed-U.

Stephen Davis is a drummer, composer and bandleader mainly playing improvised music. His quartet includes Hawkins, Alex Bonney and Dylan Bates. He is the drummer of Braxton’s The New Standard, plays in a free jazz trio with pianist Matthew Bourne and double bassist Dave Kane, and has released acclaimed albums with them.

Davis has also recorded original projects as a composer for the British “Babel” and Swiss “Intakt” labels. He has collaborated with many distinguished musicians, including Mark Ribot, Evan Parker, Ralph Alessi, Kris Davis, John Taylor, Rufus Reid, Paul Dunmall, Django Bates and Van Morrison. 

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