Recorded at the Innovations
concert series in Montreal in 2005, this trio teams Evan Parker with the established duo of Benoit Delbecq and François Houle, who have been together for a decade. The pair is known to play a wide variety of musicfrom classical to world to jazz and improvisationall of it extremely well. Both technically and temperamentally, they are suited to Parker; the threesome sound well-adjusted to each others' instincts, and should as this was not just a one-off meeting; there are plans for the threesome to tour in 2008.
The music here consists of three tracks ranging from eleven to eighteen minutes. The opener, "Stone Through Sunlight," is longest and starts tentatively, establishing a mood of tranquility with Delbecq's piano well to the fore. After a call-and-response duet between clarinet and saxophone, with the two interweaving like they'd been doing so for years, there is a similarly impressive passage involving all three players that builds to a controlled crescendo. This gives way to an interlude for Houle to build an unaccompanied solo, starting barely audibly and slowly constructing with an architect's sense of form and logic; Parker and Delbecq join in quietly and supportively, leading to more three-way exchanges. The piece concludes with a fine Parker circular breathing solo. From the start, this trio sounds mature and established, not like players just getting to know each other.
"Moonlight Through Stone features a number of brisk sections when all three are playing at full-tilt to thrilling effect. Just as effective though are duet passages when Parker and Houle play musical tag, sounding very playful indeed. The slow endingstately clarinet punctuated by piano chordsis very atmospheric and conveys a great sense of emotion. "Stone On Stone is just as good; the preparations to Delbecq's piano are most noticeable, as they produce a brittle, metallic percussive sound.
This is chamber improv of the highest caliber, without any of the pretensions that the term may imply, it manages to sound playful and fun.