Evan Parker: Hook, Drift & Shuffle & Zafiro
Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton
These two releases form a wonderful cross-section of a seminal British improvising trio's activity. Evan Parker, Paul Lytton and Barry Guy have been performing together, in one context or another, since the early '70s. They are caught, in the recordings on offer here, in two concert settings: Belgium in 1983 and Spain in 2006 respectively; the results are as diverse as they are enjoyable.
Hook, Drift & Shuffle, the 1983 performance originally released on the Parker/Derek Bailey Incus label, prefigures the timbres now associated with Parker's Electroacoustic Ensemble. Huge washes of semi-static transparent sound permeate, while transient peaks also abound; the opening moments of "Shuffle find a descending honk from Parker resonating with the electronics employed by Lytton and trombonist George Lewis, making his tenor sound bigger than life. As with the Electroacoustic Ensemble, there is the constant illusion of more musicians than are actually present, especially on the 34-minute "Drift , a huge mass of intersecting plains of drone with blurred edges. Even the pointillisms throughout, including rather astonishing chipmunk vocalizations, are subservient to drones, long shrill squeals and protruding growls of epic proportions that swell and subside.
Compared to the general ambience of the 1983 recording, Zafiro is a firestorm. The overarching waves and long-form peaks and valleys are still present, but the volume and energy level has been raised considerably. Always somewhat restless, even at moments of near silence, the 2006 concert bubbles with volcanic energy, ready to spill over at any moment. By the time of the ninth track, the eruption occurs, the slow burn becoming torrents of ash and fury as Parker unleashes his customary streams of notes, Guy's bass groaning and sliding underneath. Elsewhere, surprisingly enough, the trio actually swings, Lytton's drumming taking on a historically informed post-bop aura for just a moment or two.
Far from retrogression, a listen through the latter performance actually exposes details nascent in the former, rendering it a maturation rather than any sort of retreat. The discs are complementary, dialectical views of this long-term collaboration and no fan or devotee of Parker, Guy or Lytton's work should be without either. Special mention must also be made of George Lewis' playing, a particularly interesting approach to his instrument and to electronic music pervading the 1983 set.
Tracks and Personnel
Hook, Drift & Shuffle
Tracks: Drift; Shuffle; Hook.
Personnel: Evan Parker: tenor and soprano saxophones; George Lewis: trombone; Barry Guy: bass; Paul Lytton: percussion.
Tracks: Access Point: ID 1 [start]; ID 2 [bass; perc]; ID 3 [enter tenor sax]; ID 4 [perc. solo]; ID 5 [enter bass]; ID 6 [enter soprano sax]; ID 7 [soprano sax solo]; ID 8 [bass; perc]; ID 9 [enter soprano sax]; ID 10 Zafiro Encore.
Personnel: Evan Parker: soprano and tenor saxophone; Barry Guy: double bass; Paul Lytton; drums and percussion.