Foxes Fox is a relatively rare opportunity to hear master improvising saxophonist Evan Parker in the company of a pianist, although these opportunities are increasing of late: since 1995 he has recorded in a quartet setting with Marilyn Crispell ( Natives and Aliens, Leo) and in duets with Agustí Fernández ( Tempranillo, Nova Era) and George Gräwe ( Unity Variations, Okka). And FMP has just issued a long-awaited new release from the Schlippenbach Trio.
All of those recordings are worth hearing, but Foxes Fox is rendered even more enticing by the presence of the dynamic old Blue Notes/Brotherhood of Breath percussionist Louis Moholo, plus pianist Steve Beresford and bassist John Edwards, neither of whom are slouches by any means.
Parker sticks almost exclusively to tenor on this date, laying down his characteristically skittering, lowing, singing, meandering, chirruping, winding lines. There is a strong but little-remarked continuity and coherence to Parker's soloing - especially when he has a good long space in which to stretch out, as on the two longest pieces here, "Amoebic Mystery" and "Foxes Fox." A his pianist is a real find. Crispell tended to punctuate and comment upon Parker's phrases, Gräwe to try to race and joust with him, and Schlippenbach to feed him phrases and be fed them in turn. Beresford is up to doing all those things, but is at once more self-effacing and more front-and-center. He finds the tonal roots and emanations of Parker's lines, accentuates them rhythmically, comments above or beneath them, and in all seems intent on creating a coherent piece of music in unity with the other musicians. When Parker lays out Beresford and the others engage in some sparkling, stardust interplay that may involve the inside of the piano.
Edwards can play as percussively as Parker's longtime partner Barry Guy, but he generally favors a thick, fat sound that supports the others. A long trio section of "Amoebic Mystery" has him, in conjunction with Moholo, laying down a spread rhythmic base that Beresford eventually sustains with pedal work. Moholo, meanwhile, is as multifaceted as ever: he can adapt to the freest rhythm and keep everything from falling apart - not that it's anywhere close to doing so in the capable hands of these four.
Evan Parker is releasing a great many recordings these days. While his approach is well-established at this point, he has a particular ability to adapt to his surroundings. As his fellows here are so capable, this disc is highly recommended.
Evan Parker, ts, ss; Steve Beresford, p; John Edwards, b; Louis Moholo, d.
Track listing: Wood on Wood / Amoebic Mystery / Running (with Scissors) / Bird with a Shell / Snail/Kite / Fox's Fox / Foxes Fox / Toast Sweat / Dog Bone D Flat.