Alexander Hawkins is a composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader who is ‘unlike anything else in modern creative music’. Working in a vast array of creative contexts, his own unique soundworld is forged through the search to reconcile both a love of free improvisation and a profound fascination with composition and structure.
His writing has been said to represent ‘a fundamental reassertion of composition within improvised music’, and his voice one of the ‘most vividly distinctive…in modern jazz’.As a pianist, he has been described as ‘remarkable…possessing staggering technical ability and a fecund imagination as both player and composer.’ Concerning his organ playing, critic Brian Morton recently commented that ‘[t]he most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [Hawkins] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’
He is a frequent solo performer, and also appears in groupings ranging from duo (with the likes of Evan Parker, John Surman, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Sofia Jernberg and Tomeka Reid), through to large ensembles. His co-led quartet with the vocalist Elaine Mitchener ‘probably [sets] a new standard for improvised music with song’; whilst Togetherness Music, released by Intakt Records in January 2021, and has been called ‘[a] masterpiece that can stand next to the best works of Mitchell, Braxton or Parker’.
Hawkins has been – and continues to be – heard live and on record with vast array of contemporary leaders of all generations, including the likes of Joe McPhee, Wadada Leo Smith, Marshall Allen, Mulatu Astatke, Michael Formanek, Rob Mazurek, Chad Taylor, Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts, Esperanza Spalding, Jonny Greenwood, Angelika Niescier, and Shabaka Hutchings, amongst many others. For over a decade, he has also been noted for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo. He has also twice performed as part of Anthony Braxton’s Sonic Genome, as well as touring and recording with the Anthony Braxton Standard Quartet.
In 2012, he was chosen as a member of the first edition of the London Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Soundhub’ scheme for young composers. He has been widely commissioned, by the likes of the BBC, festivals such as the London and Berlin Jazz Festivals, and contemporary music groups such as the Riot Ensemble. He was named ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ in the 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. In 2018, he was elected a fellow of the Civitella Ranieri.
Concert appearances take him to major club, concert and festival stages worldwide.