All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

44

Foxes Fox: Live at the Vortex

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
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).

Title: Live At The Vortex | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Psi

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Humanities CD/LP/Track Review
Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Wild Is The Wind CD/LP/Track Review
Wild Is The Wind
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review
Fairytales
by Gareth Thompson
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "Spiritual Impressions" CD/LP/Track Review Spiritual Impressions
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Float Upstream" CD/LP/Track Review Float Upstream
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Faces and Places" CD/LP/Track Review Faces and Places
by Kris Perdew
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "The Sun Though the Rain" CD/LP/Track Review The Sun Though the Rain
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 31, 2017
Read "Starting Today" CD/LP/Track Review Starting Today
by Chris May
Published: April 5, 2018
Read "Soul Garden" CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017