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All About Jazz – 26 January 2017

Internationales Jazz Festival Münster, Hawkins-Mitchener Quartet review

Henning Bolte

The brilliance and urgency, the openness and the irresistible inner swing of the movement captivated the audience (…) the group took the audience as its fifth member on a stunning many-sided sonic tour. (…) The musical action went beyond known limits.

The likewise new configuration of pianist Alexander Hawkins and vocalist extraordinaire Elaine Mitchener together with bassist Neil Charles and drummer Steve Davis appeared to be a benevolent match too, and Elaine Mitchener not less than a revelation. The four musicians let arise a heaving wave, a wave swelling and ebbing away in a close to nature’s way. The extensions of the basic tune as well as a great variety of extended techniques used provided immediate enthralling and strong meaningful expressiveness in a subtle connected and connecting way. The brilliance and urgency, the openness and the irresistible inner swing of the movement captivated the audience (think-like-the-waves-approach). Consequently the group took the audience as its fifth member on a stunning many-sided sonic tour.

Mitchener unites traces of Jeanne LeeBetty Carter, Cathy Berberian, Brigitte Fontaine, Anca Parghel and even Billie Holiday in a highly fascinating, movable and pointed way in her highly dynamic, brisk and boisterous stage action. It is so much more than just vocalizing and singing. She can switch rapidly between leading and following and always manages to take the audience with her. Outstanding moments were the internal vocal conduction through STOP—MOVE—STAY shouts that strongly drew everybody into the movement. The other astounding moment was the performance of “The List,” her reciting of an endless LIST OF THINGS TO GET RID OFF on a lovely undulating groove. Bassist Neil Charles went flying, from the first moment filling the space with the sound of his mighty wings. Steve Davis acted as an enormously spacy percussionist moving the clouds and Alexander Hawkins played or juggled the balls. The musical action went beyond known limits with a lot of known and familiar tools.

9 March 2018

Jazzwise Magazine – 23 February 2018