After working together for years as sidemen in various music ensembles, Bryan Bowman and I wanted to form a group that embraced our disparate influences as composers and players while cultivating a very honest and personal sound. Inspired by recordings of Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet, the we wanted to emphasize lyricism and move between formal structure and free playing without detouring into selfish avant-gardism. We enlisted the brilliantly creative, Grant Levin on piano and Masura Koga on woodwinds, to compliment the vision. With minimal preparation, we recorded twenty-two songs in only two five-hour sessions. It was immediately apprarent that the the chemistry was unique. This recording is the result.
Here are some nice things people are saying about the recording...
Hawkeye is the first release by a fine young quartet of musician, and a beautifully varied, eloquently played and intensely involving set of original compositions. . All four men contribute compositions to the album, also bringing their own ideas to the arrangements, leading to a genuinely collaborative project. The tunes are a mix of straight-ahead jazz, hard bop and more contemporary jazz influences: there are also hints of many other genres as the players bring their varied experiences to the project. The mix of sounds creates what for the most part is a gently upbeat album filled with tremendous variation in style and approach.
Bevan takes the lion's share of the writing credits, with six tunes to his name. "Hawkeye" and "Miraje" both swing beautifully and give Levin and Koga the chance to stretch out with some melodic soloing. "Reverence for All Things Small" is performed by Bevan, Levin and Bowman—it's a spacious ballad that showcases Bevan's distinctive bass sound and Levin's sparkling piano.
"Perseverance" is Bowman's beautiful fusion of jazz and Eastern influences. The percussionist plays tabla on the tune, underpinning the melody with an attacking, danceable rhythm. "Middle Ground," written by Levin, has a delightfully fluid rhythm and some hard-driving left hand piano patterns. Bevan's wonderfully-titled "Spontaneous Root Variation" opens in a recognizably bop style before shifting into a more free-jazz feel then metamorphosing into a jagged duet between Koga's higher register sax and Bevan's energetic bass.
Koga's "Hanabi" brings yet another change of style to the album. The tune has a mysterious aura to it, due in large part to Koga's ethereal playing of the shakuhachi flute and Bowman's creative percussion. A slightly darker, slightly unsettling vibe comes to the fore on Bevan's "Sneak Attack." Levin's piano and Bevan's bass seem to laugh mockingly while Bevan's bass solo is almost menacing. It's one of the album's most successful tunes and once again demonstrates the quartet's ability to create different moods and atmospheres.
Hawkeye works on a number of levels: the talent of the musicians, the quality of the compositions and the variety of moods and styles combine to make a strong, enjoyably eclectic album. The fact that this is the band's debut makes it even more impressive: future collaborations are eagerly anticipated. - Bruce Linsday, Allaboutjazz.com
This album of original jazz compositions is pretty remarkable. Bassist Sam Bevan is a prominent sideman with a terrific ear — he sings audibly while soloing on the title track. As a bandleader he's relatively unassuming, splitting the songwriting duties with drummer Bryan Bowman, pianist Grant Levin, and saxophonist Mas Koga. The band swings hardest on the head of "Sneak Attack." -Rachel Swan, East Bay Express