Stevens / Rutherford / Parker / Guy: One Four and Two Twos

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Stevens / Rutherford / Parker / Guy: One Four and Two Twos This release brings the very welcome return of an August 1978 studio session involving four legends of British improv: drummer John Stevens, trombonist Paul Rutherford, saxophonist Evan Parker and bassist Barry Guy. The first four of its five quartet tracks were originally released on LP in 1980 by View; all five were rereleased on CD in 1994 by Konnex, accompanied by a 1992 Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME) track. Here, all five are accompanied by three unreleased 1979 duo tracks from trombonist Paul Rutherford and bassist Barry Guy, and two unreleased 1992 duo tracks by drummer John Stevens and saxophonist Evan Parker, hence the title.

It is no exaggeration to say that without the players here the course of improvised music in Britain—and, hence, the world—would have been very different. All four were members of SME in 1966-67 (alongside those other founding fathers, guitarist Derek Bailey, saxophonist Trevor Watts and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler), as evidenced on Withdrawal (Emanem, 1997). At one time, the duo of Parker and Stevens was SME, and the two frequently played as a duo. Guy and Rutherford were two-thirds of that other key improvising ensemble, Iskra 1903, first with Bailey then with violinist Philipp Wachsmann as the third member.

On the five quartet tracks here, all four play together most of the time, creating a full soundscape that is indebted to free jazz as much as to improvisation. Stevens and Guy deftly straddle the genres, largely adopting the role of a conventional rhythm section, maintaining a steady pulse that underpins the quartet, with each of them occasionally opting for some freer playing. Even in the drummer's more wayward moments, Guy remains steady as a rock, a firm foundation on which to build. Over the top, the saxophone and trombone fit together and perfectly complement one another as they each play their own way, while allowing the other just enough space. Rutherford's highly distinctive swoops repeatedly command attention; rich and fruity, they are a reminder of just how great a player he was... and how sadly missed he is.

On the quartet tracks, Guy is credited with using electronics, but they are barely noticeable beyond an occasional high-pitched drone or chirrup which does not feel integral to the music—the use of electronics in improv was still in its infancy at the time. Likewise, on the duo tracks by Guy and Rutherford, the trombonist employs electronics; they are rather more evident as a third voice and fit in more with the music. As an improvising pairing, Guy and Rutherford demonstrate the benefit of their time together in Iskra 1903, being totally integrated and sympathetic throughout, sometimes even seeming close to playing in unison.

The pairing of Parker and Stevens is just as experienced and compatible, sounding decidedly energetic and active compared to the more stately bass and trombone combination. Anyway, why compare? These are four great musicians in peak form, with five newly released tracks from a golden age. Who could ask for anything more?

Track Listing: 1, 4, 4; 2, 4, 4; 3, 4, 4; 4, 4, 4; 5, 4, 4; 1, 3, 2; 2, 3, 2; 3, 3, 2; 1, 2, 2; 2, 2, 2.

Personnel: John Stevens: drum set (1-5), percussion (9, 10), voice (1-5, 9, 10); Paul Rutherford: trombone and euphonium (1-5), trombone & electronics (6-8); Evan Parker: soprano, tenor saxophones (1-5), soprano saxophone (9, 10); Barry Guy: double bass, electronics (1-5), double bass (6-8).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Emanem

Related Video


More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "The Beautiful Day" CD/LP/Track Review The Beautiful Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Ears Are Filled With Wonder" CD/LP/Track Review Ears Are Filled With Wonder
by John Sharpe
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Pomona" CD/LP/Track Review Pomona
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "The Stone House" CD/LP/Track Review The Stone House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp" CD/LP/Track Review The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "La Diversité" CD/LP/Track Review La Diversité
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!

Buy it!