Thursday, February 22, 2018

Free Jazz Improvisation from London on Intakt

Paul Lytton in 2016 (photograph by Hreinn Gudlaugsson from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

Once again Intakt Records has released an album of free jazz improvisation for the truly adventurous. The album was released this past Friday, and the title is Music for David Mossman: Live at Vortex London. The album consists of four improvised sets all lasting between ten and 25 minutes. These were all recorded at a single club date at the Vortex Jazz Club (founded in 1987 in London by Mossman) on July 14, 2016. The improvisers are the trio of Evan Parker on saxophone, Barry Guy on bass, and Paul Lytton on drums. Parker and Lytton have been doing free improvisation gigs since 1969, and they started doing trio work with Guy in the early Eighties.

In spite of that extensive legacy, none of them have abandoned their commitment to avant-gardism. Over the course of their four sets, they cover considerably imaginative ground. Since all three of them are roughly my age, I hesitate to use phrases like “in spite of their age” in describing what they do. However, I have to say that I am particularly drawn to passages that seem to reflect the interplay of introspection and collaboration, leaving me to wonder whether that rhetorical stance is the result of the “seasoning of age.” What may be more important is that the introspective side allows for an appreciation of the virtues of soft-spoken interactions at a time when the younger generations are more inclined to pour out the decibels in full force.

This is music that quietly asks for attentive listening, rather than trying to melt the wax in your ears.

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