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Evan Parker Octet: Crossing the River

Glenn Astarita By

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Saxophonist Evan Parker leads this variegated ensemble sojourn into exploratory improvisation, largely within the archetypal framework of Brit-improv. The nine performers feed off one another's ideas, leading to spurious shifts in strategy and combining minimalism, avant chamber motifs, micro-themes and more. Passages containing creaky strings and whimsical flute patterns are interlaced with contrapuntal call and response passages. Energies are spent wisely here!

The music incorporates a multitude of tonal shades to complement moments of wit and happenstance. On the quintet piece aptly titled "Quintet, pianist Agusti Fernandez shoots rapid flurries across a fluctuating musical plane, offset by violinist Philipp Wachsmann's pointed staccato lines. Here and elsewhere the artists touch upon the new style of classical avant-garde overtures.

The musicians inject innumerable contrasts into the flow, where circular motifs often evolve into transient statements and bellowing soundscapes. In sum, this recent outing typifies the perceptive and often ingenious platforms of Parker's previous ventures. Crossing the River prods and stimulates one's sense of reason. Recommended.

Track Listing: Octet I; Quintet; Trio I; Trio 2; Trio 3; Duo; Octet 2; Octet 3.

Personnel: Neil Metcalfe: flute; John Rangecroft: clarinet; Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; Philipp Wachsmann: violin; Marcio Mattos: cello; John Edwards: bass; John Russell: guitar; Agusti Fernandez: piano.

Title: Crossing the River | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Psi

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