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Dave Liebman / Evan Parker / Tony Bianco: Relevance

Nic Jones By

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This release documents the first time that saxophonists Dave Liebman and Evan Parker have worked together and given their respective lengths of service to the music, this is remarkable. What is less so, is the fact that they so readily found a common language given their respective takes on the aesthetic of John Coltrane. Of the two, Parker has always been the greater—one might say the more dogmatic—advocate of free music, but given the diversity of Liebman's discography it's easy to lose sight of how fluent he is in that particular musical tongue.

So emphatically is this the case here, that at times it's difficult to distinguish one from the other. Parker has something of a track record of working in duos with drummers—names like John Stevens, Eddie Prevost and Paul Lovens spring readily to mind—but here the conversation is democratically three-way for all that. "Relevance part 1" is shot through with the kind of energy that ensures the music rolls and boils. Although the notion of leadership is disingenuous given the nature of the music, it's true to say that Tony Bianco is largely responsible for this, imparting momentum as he does to even the more reflective moments.

"Relevance part 2" is more reflective and occupies a distinct space compared with, for example, Parker's work with John Stevens. Here both saxophonists utilize the soprano sax, but again they manage to avoid the territory already covered by the modest glut of soprano players working in this area. The music exemplifies also the degree to which Parker is a cooperator in the best sense. His solo vocabulary on the straight horn is marked by circular breathing and other tools of extended technique, as if silence signals only some diminution of power, whilst in this group setting he's but one voice in three, in thrall to the moment and the contributions of his fellows as everyone else.

Albert Ayler walks the margins on "Relevance part 3" which finds Liebman evoking his spirit once the piece evolves with his use of wide vibrato. That collective energy comes into its own again but Bianco is nothing if not a listener, something emphasized also on the last part, where Liebman's Indian bamboo flute has the effect of taking the music outside of the free continuum. The results are nonetheless compelling, and not simply because they're less forthright than a lot of the musical outcomes here. As it is, the shared ground prevails again in this fertile meeting of minds.

Track Listing: Relevance part 1; Relevance part 2; Relevance part 3; Relevance part 4.

Personnel: Dave Liebman: soprano sax, tenor sax, Indian bamboo flute; Evan Parker: soprano sax, tenor sax; Tony Bianco: drums.

Title: Relevance | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Red Toucan Records

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