A piano trio who have been honing and roadworking their craft over the past few years, Escape Hatch now release their debut album Roots of Unity on Whirlwind. A collaborative concept birthed by Milan-born double bassist Andrea Di Biase and British pianist Ivo Neame, the line-up is completed by London-based drummer Dave Hamblett, and augmented by guest saxophonist Julian Argüelles
With a particular focus on the aesthetics of longer, progressive compositional outcomes – affording the freedom for elaboration through melodic development, harmonic color and extended improvisation – Escape Hatch’s searching, artistic alliance reflects their core intent: ‘a tribute to the power that music has to transport listeners and performers to the antipodes of the mind.’ That said, the original, individual writing of Di Biase and Neame flows both lyrically and connectively, presenting an overarching accessibility which belies the elemental complexity and underlying logic of its construction. As Di Biase explains: “One of the beautiful aspects of this band is that it is a fertile environment where we are willing to explore new ideas; to let go of a composition and allow it to grow at the hands of the performers. And when we find solutions to the various challenges (where you start feeling it in your body), a ‘eureka moment’ is reached. It’s that discovery process we’re always looking for.”
Echoing Escape Hatch’s creative bond, as well as offering a defiant response to current political divisiveness by reaffirming what we share as human beings, Roots of Unity also strongly reflects Di Biase’s interest in mathematical concepts in relation to music – specifically, the strength in a complex number being derived from the figure ‘one’.
But whatever connection is made, this is an album whose integrity and finesse shine out, the bustling energy of ten-minute ‘Hysterical Revisionism’ also revealing the band’s openness through Di Biase’s sonorous perambulations and Neame’s pianistic impressionism. Arguelles’ authoritative invention is present in four tracks, swelling such buoyant outings as ‘La Strega’ and ‘Moon Bathing’; and ‘Today, Tomorrow, Never’s’ questioning demeanor (a poignant commentary on migrants’ struggles for a better life) becomes enhanced by the tenorist’s characteristically mellifluous delivery.
As an album, Roots of Unity possesses a conventional piano trio immediacy, with an enriching saxophonic fluidity – yet it has also been purposefully conceived, with artisan-like ingenuity. Andrea Di Biase confirms what it means to finally divulge their work: “As musicians, we have matured together over the years, so now feel ready – and are excited – to present it to a wider audience.”
1. Hysterical Revisionism
2. La Strega
3. Roots of Unity
5. Today, Tomorrow, Never
6. History Repeating
8. Dust and Moonlight
9. Common Multiple