It was May 2009 when I first heard Alexander Hawkins play at the Vortex Jazz Club, with the Anthony Braxton’s cornet-playing protégé Taylor Ho Bynum, bassist Dominic Lash and drummer Harris Eisenstadt in the Convergence Quartet. The music was an idiomatic white-knuckle ride, and all the players were variously fascinating but the then 28 year-old Hawkins was a revelation, for the audacity of his ideas, the depth of his understanding of both thematic and free-form musics, and for his Cecil Taylor-like stamina and power. At the end of that year, I made Hawkins my choice as the rising young player to watch in every media outlet I could get the news into. But his achievements since, including through-composed music, the jazz of Thelonious Monk or Steve Lacy, fine-detail free-improv, reinvented Hammond organ funk and a lot more, have exceeded all expectations. With this album, Hawkins explores one of his most productive musical relationships, with the great South African percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo. If you detect a glimpse or two of classic South African jazz in the solemn, hymn-like chords in Amaxesha Osizi or Hawkins rocking, early-Abdullah drive on Hear Our Hearts, they represent the young Oxford pianist’s enthusiasm for that culture s fusion of soulfulness and townships jive, and the percussion giant’s profound experiences of it, that drew these two together in the first place. But, typically for both players, this session spans far wider horizons, and the pair traverse them with astonishing empathy and alert impulsiveness… In the rich jazz history of an old lion making inspired new music with a young one, Keep Your Heart Straight deserves a very prominent place on the podium.
Alexander Hawkings & Louis Moholo-Moholo
Keep Your Heart Straight
CD / Digital