His own highly distinctive soundworld is forged through the search to reconcile both his love of free improvisation and profound fascination with composition and structure. In 2012, he was chosen as a member of the first edition of the London Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Soundhub’ scheme for young composers. He also received a major BBC commission in late 2012 for a fifty minute composition: One Tree Found was first performed and broadcast in March 2013, and was subsequently performed and broadcast for the WDR in Cologne (2014). He has also twice been commissioned by the London Jazz Festival (once as composer, once as an arranger), and by the Cheltenham Jazz Festival (2016).
His writing for his own groups has been said to represent ‘a fundamental reassertion of composition within improvised music’ (Point of Departure). One review of his Ensemble’s debut record, No Now Is So (FMR Records), wrote of ‘such absolute joy and strength…an incredible record’ (Clifford Allen, Bagatellen). The album featured heavily in top ten albums of 2009 lists on both sides of the Atlantic. The group’s second album, all there, ever out, was said to mark them out as one of the ‘most vividly distinctive [groups] in modern jazz’ (The Jazzmann). Step Wide, Step Deep, released in late 2013, charts the latest chapter in the group’s development. His other groups include Decoy, a trio in which Hawkins plays Hammond Organ, and The Covergence Quartet.
An in-demand sideman, Hawkins continues to be heard live and on record with vast array of contemporary leaders, such as Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, and Mulatu Astatke. He has also been heard in more ad hoc collaborations with the likes of Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, and Marshall Allen. He has also been noted in recent years for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo. A duo album, ‘Keep Your Heart Straight’, was released on the Ogun label in October 2012, and has been called ‘a classic in waiting’ (John Eyles). Concert appearances have taken him to club, concert and festival stages worldwide.
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Textura“A remarkable pianist, one possessing staggering technical ability and a fecund imagination as both player and composer. ”
The Guardian“Hawkins improvises with the strength and conviction that comes from combining an advanced technique with a teeming imagination…state-of-the-art contemporary piano jazz ”