Group Communication Par Excellence
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 03/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Producer created jazz groups rarely work well as artistic products. Sure, the Norman Grantz Jazz at the Philharmonic sessions were fun, but it would be hard to call the results profound. But occasionally a producer has a grouping of inspired genius. This recording is the result of one such inspiration. Phillips, Parker and Bley are not musicians who are normally associated. In fact, they seem to inhabit vastly different worlds. But Manfred Eichter of ECM brought them together for the marvelous early 90s album, Time Will Tell and since then they have been a going concern.The present CD is even more impressive than the group's initial date. Recorded in a Swiss monastery, there is a warmth and presence about this date that is palpable. The disc is dominated by free trio improvisations but features two solo cuts each by the players. Barre Phillips is typically icy. His bow work especially is played close to the bridge of the instrument, creating a chilling tone that always seems on the verge of whistling away into harmonics. He is a master of bass effects, but they are always in service of the moment, never mere displays of cleverness. Evan Parker has never sounded better. His trademark torrents of sound are on display and they are awesome. I often play Parker to those who claim that avant-garde jazz doesn't require any technique. Parker's control over his multiphonics and mastery of circular breathing (no Kenny G did NOT invent the technique) is amazing to behold. But he also strikes a lyrical note here, perhaps because of the presence of Bley. Bley is a wonder on the disc...bridging the styles of both Parker and Phillips. He plays an impressive torrent of sound to match the saxophonist and yet at the same time sounds restrained. The interplay between Parker and Bley is amazing...often sounding more composed than improvised. And when Bley's lyric side pours out, particularly in his solo efforts, the results are truly inspired. The recorded sound it typically beautiful, if just a little close. Particularly in Phillips' solos it's a bit disconcerting to hear the bassist breathing. But this is a small matter really and should deter no fans of any of these musicians from getting this CD."
A vast improvement on their first disc
William E. Russell | Oakland, CA [Bostonian-in-exile] | 07/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The members of this sax-piano-bass trio are (primarily, if not exclusively) jazz musicians, but the music they make together has little of the rhythmic momentum normally associated with the word "jazz". If you played this for most listeners in a blindfold test, they'd probably identify it as some sort of mid-twentieth-century chamber music. Which, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing... From the group's previous CD, TIME WILL TELL, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect; what surprised me was how much I like this one. Evan Parker's style can be quite abrasive (and often, to my ear, to no good end; his solos on Kenny Wheeler's AROUND 6, for instance, seem to clash with the rest of the music, repeatedly breaking the mood the other musicians have set up). Here, Parker's pensive and lyrical side is on display much of the time, and I find the results infinitely more appealing than most of TIME WILL TELL, which contained only two or three pieces I'd want to hear repeatedly. The trio tracks are interspersed with solo pieces, adding a welcome touch of variety to the proceedings. If you prefer to avoid the album's more raucous and outside moments, you might want to program your CD player to skip Variations 1, 8 and 11, at least for the first few listens. I found it helpful to get acclimatized to the music before giving these tracks a try. [Consumer note: although the packaging says "live", there's no problem with the sound quality, and no sign of extraneous crowd noise-so presumably what they mean is "live in the studio", not "live in concert".]"