For this album, living legends in the world of improvised music Marilyn Crispell and Evan Parker joined the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra as featured soloists in these recordings of two separate live performances of the same composition (hence the duplication of some track titles). Parallel Moments Unbroken was written by GIO founding member Raymond MacDonald, and commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for Jazz on 3. It was devised using a combination of graphic scores, through-composed sections, artwork and photography, all of which were based on MacDonald's past musical experiences and relationships with the musicians involved. It explores the relational aspects of improvisation, music-making and life.
Given some of the seemingly apocalyptic sounding moments in the piece, there is clearly a sense of honesty about these various relationships with music and musicians, and the methods employed by MacDonald express these beautifully and unambiguously. Despite the duplication of tracks, there is enough freedom for each of the performers to allow these pieces to develop in different directions, demonstrating how relationships are never static, and as such the listener is not left feeling that they are simply listening to two takes of the same piece.
Overall, MacDonald's concept, Crispell and Parker's individual performances, and the orchestra's extraordinary cohesiveness, despite the loose framework (the effective use of graphic scores being an extremely dark art) all make for a genuinely compelling listen, something which cannot always be said of free jazz. Add to this a superb quality recording and Parallel Moments Unbroken is an essential purchase for fans of free and avant-garde improvised music.