These four esteemed improvisers participated with others of their kind at the New Music Days series of concerts as part of the Southend International Jazz Festival in 2003. To engender endless numerological speculation, they chose to perform at 8pm on 8/8, and from those performances come a solo piece each, plus a lengthy ensemble expedition into the unknown that surpasses expectations built from the solos.
Piccolo pizzicatos and raw scraping open Phillip Wachsmann's mercurial display. A brief melodic interlude, some sound effects, and Wachsmann moves into plucked whimsy. Occasionally shadowing his various voices, subtle echoing effects work well for him, shading, not showy. He strikes some chords and they loop back organ-like. Plucking and strumming become a hall of mirrors.
Evan Parker manages to play much of the alto in the first three measures and hurtles onward, blowing like a man on fire. His improv delivers the near shamanic intensity he brings wiith circular breathing. Parker advances a stack of melodic ideas simultaneously, the way a busy polyrhythmic drummer multi-deals rhythm, but with a single voiced instrument at mouth-shredding speeds.
Sizzling cymbal and gong swell opens Eddie Provost's segment, the gongs sounding a fanfare. From there he launches sounds that may or may not be electronic, amidst shearing metal cries, growls, and purrs. A rapid rhythm device runs throughout, creating a playful backdrop.
Hugh Davies' invented instruments include resonating strings that easily whang. A muted drum leads into slippery strings, their sound deliberately shorting out with crackles and pops.
As a band they begin with Parker's breath, and Wachsmann's electronics and violin-based tones. The awakening onslaught of active small sounds suggests a primordial dawn. Parker unleashes a savage top, and the ensemble heats up. Provost's cymbal song commands his partners' attention, soon enough Parker spins aural ninja stars at the band. An evocative dream state arises from invented instruments and electronics, then abrasive rhythms embrace Parker's flutters. After a fitful ensemble wrangle, unfamiliar sounds and conventional instruments played unconventionally join voices in a hymn to freedom.
With duo and other quartet performances teasingly said to languish in "the can," there's always the hope that more of these luminous tracks will find their way to disc.
Personnel: Phillip Wachsmann, violin, electronics; Evan Parker, saxophone; Eddie Provost, percussion; Hugh Davies, invented instruments.