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Dave Green Trio plus Evan Parker: Raise Four

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Dave Green Trio plus Evan Parker: Raise Four
Bassist Dave Green recorded this set for the BBC Radio 3 programme Somethin' Else in 2004. In the interview included here with the show's presenter Jez Nelson, Green reflects on a forty year career in jazz. It is fitting that this fine record, only his fourth as leader, sees its release in the year Green marks his 80th birthday. What a great way to celebrate a wonderful career!

Less well-known than he should be beyond the UK and mainland Europe, Green is one of Britain's finest exponents of the largest member of the fiddle family. As a lad, growing up on the outskirts of London, he was good mates with the Rolling Stones' drummer (the sadly late) Charlie Watts. That friendship was never forgotten by Watts, who hired Green when he formed the Charlie Watts' Orchestra in 1986 and the quintet that recorded From One Charlie in 1991.

One of Green's first professional gigs was with the seminal Don Rendell-Ian Carr Quintet which he joined in the early sixties. Other long-term associations were with Humphrey Lyttelton, Stan Tracey, Michael Garrick, Peter King and Joe Harriott. As he says in the interview with Nelson, Green was always equally comfortable playing Dixieland, Mainstream, Bebop or stretching out into free improvisation. One of the regular bass players for visiting American artists at Ronnie Scott's Club from the early days in Gerrard Street to its current premises, Green backed major figures such as Roland Kirk, Ben Webster, Buddy Tate, Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins. His skills have continued to be much in demand by visiting stars. Indeed, one favourite jazz memory comes from a gig in Colchester with the great Lee Konitz and a trio that included Green and pianist John Taylor.

In a way, what you get here is a distillation of all that experience. Raise Four features Green's then regular trio of multi-reeds player Iain Dixon and American ex-pat drummer Gene Calderazzo plus renowned saxophonist-free improviser Evan Parker. The tunes of Thelonious Monk were an obvious and excellent choice for this meeting between Green's trio and Parker. Their angularity and edginess fit Parker to a tee. But it is the interaction and empathy between the players which makes for a hugely satisfying encounter.

"Shuffle Boil" opens with a free cadenza on soprano from Parker, before shifting into its funky, slippery groove. Here, Dixon's bass clarinet is paired with Parker's horn and the contrast of textures works perfectly. Green's bass introduces, "Ex-Changes," the one completely free offering here. The performance sits well with the "standards" on the album, shifting through a series of duets—between Green and Dixon, Dixon and Parker, Parker and Calderazzo and finally Calderazzo and Green. It's worth the entry price on its own.

The title track is great fun and the band are clearly having a ball. Featuring both horn players on tenor, it recalls those infamous tenor duels of the forties and fifties. Back then it was Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon. Here, it is Dixon and Parker with a rhythm section just as fine as the one featured on Gray and Gordon's "The Hunt" or "The Chase." Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Spring" is given the most tender of readings with heart-on-sleeve tenor from Parker set against Dixon's clarinet. But listen to the rhythm section and at the heart of the performance is the warmest of glows. Memo to self—must play this for Parker-fearing jazz fans!

That just leaves "Played Twice"—and this listener wanting more. The feel here—and elsewhere on the disc—is very much that of the early Ornette Coleman quartet or Steve Lacy's Monk recordings—in particular, The Straight Horn, which itself features "Played Twice." The quartet have that loping, striding thing but with a slight spring in the step down that makes Monk's tunes sing and tug at the heart. A group that deserves a reunion very soon. Just don't leave it another eighteen years, guys.

Track Listing

Jez Nelson/Dave Green Interview; Shuffle Boil (Monk); Ex-Changes (Green/Dixon/Parker/Calderazzo); Raise Four (Monk); A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing (Strayhorn); Played Twice (Monk). Rec. November 5, 2004.

Personnel

Dave Green: bass, acoustic; Iain Dixon: saxophone; Gene Calderazzo: drums; Evan Parker: saxophone.

Album information

Title: Raise Four | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Trio Records

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