Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

433

Evan Parker / The Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Evan Parker / The Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon The delineation between ECM's regular series and New Series has always been relatively clear—improvised music with the regular series, composed music on the New Series. Still, there's an increasingly substantial gray area, occupying a fuzzy space between the two.

Reedman Roscoe Mitchell's outstanding Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (ECM, 2007) occupied that gray area, investigating the nexus where contemporary classical music and exploratory improvisation meet. Calling on the same expanded 14-piece Transatlantic Art Ensemble that Mitchell and British saxophonist Evan Parker co-created for Composition/Improvisation by cherry-picking their favorite musicians, Boustrophedon is the logical successor to Mitchell's disc, featuring Parker's sixty-minute, eight-part "Boustrophedon" suite.

Both discs share much, while occupying distinct places along the scored improvisation continuum. The detailed compositional aspect of Boustrophedon represents an anomaly in Parker's large discography. It's a complex piece that fully utilizes the Ensemble—in small subsets and in toto—with plenty of space for improvisation that, while directed to varying degrees, remains open-ended in spirit.

Boustrophedon is structured to introduce each member of the group to his transatlantic counterpart, in contexts ranging from dark and spare to turbulent and near-anarchistic, despite an ever-present underlying premise.

Even during its most powerful moments, Boustrophedon possesses a defined—albeit sometimes sketchy—roadmap. "Furrow 6" begins with a stunning soprano solo by Parker, with his signature circular breathing over an increasingly roiling foundation that is dominated by the five string players, creating a semi-chaotic but strangely trance-like ambience. When Mitchell takes over, with a visceral alto solo over a more defined rhythm, the energy ratchets up; pianist Craig Taborn's quirkily repetitive line acts as the thematic link between the two saxophonists. Percussionists Tani Tabbal and Paul Lytton work exceptionally well together, blending raw texture and relentless rhythm that dissolves into a dynamic free exchange between the two, ultimately cueing the ensemble to a scored ending.

There's no shortage of exceptional work all-around, but Taborn stands out as a ubiquitous player—comfortable and encyclopedically knowledgeable in any setting. His work on "Furrow 1," which provides a vehicle for the pianist and flautist Neil Metcalfe after the brief but context-setting "Overture," is nothing short of remarkable. Abstruse yet lyrical in its own way, Taborn works in this unconventional context to develop a solo that works as a self-contained entity, but also provides a vinculum between Metcalfe's ethereal segment and the composition's equally empyreal segue into "Furrow 2," a feature for violinist Philipp Wachsmann and violist Nils Bultmann.

Much of Boustrophedon may sound otherworldly, with references to Stravinsky's dramatic power and Ligeti's dissonant abstraction blending with improvised music's inherent spontaneity. Like Composition/Improvisation, it's not a suite for the faint-at-heart or the stylistic purist. Instead, Boustrophedon challenges preconception and represents a high watermark for Parker, an artist best known for untarnished extemporization, who here reveals an even broader view than ever before. Like Mitchell's Composition/Improvisation, Boustrophedon is a masterpiece, suggesting how the rich palette of the Transatlantic Art Ensemble allows its composers to freely explore without any stylistic constraints.


Track Listing: Overture; Furrow 1; Furrow 2; Furrow 3; Furrow 4; Furrow 5; Furrow 6; Finale.

Personnel: Evan Parker: soprano saxophone; Roscoe Mitchell: alto and soprano saxophone; Anders Svanoe: alto saxophone; John Rangecroft: clarinet; Neil Metcalfe: flute; Corey Wilkes: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nils Bultmann: viola; Philipp Wachsmann: violin; Marcio Mattos: cello; Craig Taborn: piano; Jaribu Shahid: double-bass; Barry Guy: double-bass; Tani Tabbal: drums, percussion, Paul Lytton: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Umbrella Weather CD/LP/Track Review Umbrella Weather
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 24, 2017
Read Born In An Urban Ruin CD/LP/Track Review Born In An Urban Ruin
by John Sharpe
Published: January 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs) CD/LP/Track Review Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 24, 2017
Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Soundscapes" CD/LP/Track Review Soundscapes
by Jim Olin
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Double Live" CD/LP/Track Review Double Live
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 12, 2016
Read "The Incomparable Fiddler" CD/LP/Track Review The Incomparable Fiddler
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 12, 2016
Read "Proximity" CD/LP/Track Review Proximity
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "The Drive" CD/LP/Track Review The Drive
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!