It's no secret that during the last decade or so, most of the advanced ECM label releases all came from American jazzmen. Michael Formanek, Tim Berne and Craig Taborn are all among the label's forefront artists, always bringing some fresh air to the well refurbished ECM museum of chamber jazz.
Veteran drummer Billy Hart is another label newcomer. He has played with Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock(1969-73), McCoy Tyner,and was Miles Davis' drummer on "On The Corner". Dave Holland, Eddie Henderson, Oliver Lake, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Don Pullen and Dewey Redman all played on Hart's solo debut in 1977. With this sort of background, it would not seem that his energetic free, or even sometimes rock-influenced playing would have anything in common with the drier ECM aesthetics.
Two years ago, when Hart's long lasting project (Billy Hart Quartet), with pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Ben Street and sax player Mark Turner, released their debut on ECM, it looked like the label was just trying to improve upon their successful American artists team. A well-balanced, but sometimes directionless post-bop effort, "All Our Reasons" didn't become a sensation.
Now, two years later, "One Is the Other" continues the line of its predecessor, but it's an improved one. One can't find memorable songs or unusual moves here, but on the plus side, an almost telepathic relation between all the quartet's members, plus quite complex and even quirky compositions, groovy, bluesy (at least for ECM standard) sounds all make this album an attractive new release.
Placed in the ECM program somewhere in between European chamber jazz artists and the more adventurous New York "new avant-garde" musicians, Billy Hart's music is a good choice for who love the ECM sound, but are a bit bored with their too safe well-polished groove-less "classic" albums.