Evan Parker & Kinetics - Chiasm

Label: Clean Feed, 2019

Personnel - Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; Jacob Anderskov: piano; Adam Pultz Melbye: bass; Anders Vestergaard: drums.


The fruitful association between English saxophonist Evan Parker, an authority in the free improvisation panorama, and the Lisbon-based imprint Clean Feed has more than a decade. His latest recording for the cited record label involved The Kinetics, a Danish trio led by pianist Jacob Anderskov and featuring bassist Adam Pultz Melbye, and drummer Anders Vestergaard. On the inscrutable and yet mesmerizing Chiasm, they indulge in four pieces captured live in two European cities, London (at the Vortex Jazz Club) and Copenhagen (at DKDM Studio). At those places, the quartet funneled their creative forces into a solid package of music that flutters with labyrinthine paths and experimental structures.

Clocking in at 18 minutes, “London Part I” is the longest piece on the CD, kicking off with the pianist as he probes directions with fearlessness and creates a swampy sonic terrain whose magnetic effect drags us into its vortex. Parker infiltrates by blowing a razor-edged dissertation that, suddenly, becomes solely backed up by bass and drums. The versatile, highly interactive pianist adheres again, establishing a strangely zigzagging dialogue with the saxophonist, all flowering on top of an enthusiastic rhythmic tapestry. The last segment presents a shift in this atmosphere as the group obscures the canvas, yet nothing that can prevent the drums from emerging underneath the systematic flurries and blistering chords brought up by Anderskov.

Copenhagen Part I” is made of an organic and strenuous continual movement that barely fluctuates within the consistent stream. Its mood differentiates from “Copenhagen Part II”, whose first layer is loosely established by piano and drums. Parker, whose obsessive blows range from cerebral to burning, jumps in to form a three-way communication channel over which, in due time, Melbye dispatches an interesting mix of pizzicato and arco bass reflections. Clearly, they are all working on the same wavelength, drowning their zest in a tense gravity to reach a noisy pinnacle before the calm ending.

London Part II” closes the curtain with so much to admire. Parker ventures out alone, infusing percussive slap tonguing as part of his attractive burnished sound. He masters the saxophone with impressive control of circular breathing and unleashes multiple observations in the form of concentric bursts patterned with dark hues. With Coltrane in plain sight here, these are placed on top of the menacing soundscapes allocated by his co-workers.

Chiasm is inspired improvisation and another great effort in Parker’s never-ending pursuit of gripping, moody courses of sound and texture.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
03 - Copenhagen Part II ► 04 - London Part II

Mat Maneri, Evan Parker, Lucian Ban - Sounding Tears

Label/Year: Clean Feed, 2017

Lineup: Mat Maneri: viola; Evan Parker: saxophones; Lucian Ban: piano.

Sounding Tears is a nebulous musical session devised by the improvisational masters Mat Maneri, Evan Parker and Lucian Ban, American violist, British saxophonist, and American pianist of Romanian descent, respectively.

While Maneri teamed up recently with saxophonist Tony Malaby and cellist Daniel Levine on New Artifacts (Clean Feed, 2017), another abstract trio work, the prolific Parker followed a similar path on the astonishingly atmospheric As The Wind (Psi, 2016), recorded with percussionist Mark Nauseff and lithophonist Toma Gouband. As for Lucian Ban, he, too, released an album called Songs From Afar (Sunnyside, 2017) with his Elevation quartet, which comprises saxophonist Abraham Burton, bassist John Hebért, and drummer Eric McPherson. Maneri also played as a guest on half of the tracks.

As expected, the music of this trio arrives on the spur of the moment, acquiring random shapes and apparently flowing without a fixed structure.

On “Blue Light”, we have Parker’s uninterrupted enunciations secured by muted viola sounds and low-pitched piano notes, both working as a percussive obbligato. A lethargic disposition embraces us in the beginning of “Da da da”, whose uncanny vibes shift into an odd dance of violin and sax while the piano remains actively involved in the discussion.

Neglecting tempo and forsaking harmony, “The Rule of Twelves” finds Maneri and Parker playing an avant-chamber duet immersed in ambiguity. Also rendered in duet, but this time featuring Ban and Parker, “This!” takes a conversational path that, despite experimental, feels more graspable than the previous compositions.
Afterward, it's Ban alone, who shines with a solo piece, “Polaris”, being also preponderant on the enigmatic “Blessed”, in which his penetrating low notes superimpose to the sparse high-pitched lines. The setting he creates is perfect for Maneri’s microtonal approach and Parker’s uncompromised strays.

The record’s two closing tracks are lenient yet contrasting in nature. If “Paralex” evolves into a compulsive manifesto of disordered small flurries and spasms, “Hymn” is the closest the band can get from a song format and the most touching and ear-pleasing tune on the record. 

Sounding Tears is a one-of-a-kind experience. It can be a journey to the ends of a remote universe or a philosophical exploration about the measureless weight of some weird microorganism. It will all depend on the receptivity of your own senses.

        Grade  B+

        Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
04 – Blessed ► 05 –This! ► 10 – Hymn