44

Foxes Fox: Live at the Vortex

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Foxes Fox: Live at the Vortex Foxes Fox—Evan Parker on tenor saxophone, Steve Beresford on piano, John Edwards on bass and Louis Moholo-Moholo on percussion—first came together as a quartet in 1998. Live at the Vortex is, however, only their third album, following Foxes Fox (Emanem, 1999) and Naan Tso (Psi, 2005). Unlike its predecessors, this release—captured in February, 2007—was recorded live in concert. While the studio recordings on those earlier albums convey the energy and immediacy of the group, this live recording manages to trump those aces; it records not just the vital music, but also the unrelenting excitement and momentum that the group is consistently able to generate live.

If Foxes Fox were a rock band, it would doubtless be labeled a "super group" as all four members are among the very best players on their instruments. However, this is an improvising group so any notions of "stars" must be dispelled in favor of collective music making and interaction. The quartet delivers exactly that right from the start. At almost 39 minutes, the opening track, "Foxes Set 1," represents their first set of the evening and the four demonstrate commendable stamina throughout. While there are occasional passages that only feature two or three of the musicians—a subdued duo between piano and drums around the middle of the piece being particularly notable—for much of the time all four are in full flight. Focusing on any one of the players throughout the piece is an object lesson in improvisation, as doing so reveals how the four react to each other with an intuitive sense born out of years spent playing together—in the case of Parker and Moholo-Moholo, those years stretch back to the late sixties.

Another unique feature of Live at the Vortex is that, on the night in question, the regular quartet was joined for its second set by guest trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. The pairing of Parker and Wheeler also harks back to the sixties, to their time together (alongside the likes of Paul Rutherford, Trevor Watts, Derek Bailey, Dave Holland and John Stevens) in the versions of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME) that recorded Challenge (Eyemark, 1966; Emanem, 2001), Withdrawal (Emanem, 1997) and Karyobin (Island, 1968; Chronoscope, 1993)—key recordings from the seminal early days of free improvisation.

While Wheeler is rightly renowned for his compositions and arrangements, especially those for large ensembles, his abilities as an improviser are less often praised. Here, the interplay between saxophone and trumpet, with phrases frequently flying back and forth between them, is eloquent testimony to the trumpeter's skills. Wheeler slots into the group as if born to play with them. Right from the start of the second set he is in the spotlight, his sound and phrasing as uniquely personal as a fingerprint. If all the above talk of the sixties makes this sound like a nostalgic trip down memory lane, nothing could be further from the truth. This is twenty-first century music at its most exhilarating.

Track Listing: Foxes Set 1; Foxes Set 2; Foxes Set 3.

Personnel: Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; Steve Beresford: piano; John Edwards: double bass; Louis Moholo-Moholo: percussion; Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn (2, 3).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Psi


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Chromola CD/LP/Track Review Chromola
by John Eyles
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn CD/LP/Track Review Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Nature City CD/LP/Track Review Nature City
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin CD/LP/Track Review Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 23, 2017
Read This Is The Uplifting Part CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Earth Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Earth Tones
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 5, 2016
Read "Hasta Karma" CD/LP/Track Review Hasta Karma
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "For Free" CD/LP/Track Review For Free
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "Time Never Pauses" CD/LP/Track Review Time Never Pauses
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 10, 2016
Read "Source" CD/LP/Track Review Source
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: August 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!