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Evan Parker - Barry Guy: So It Goes


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Evan Parker - Barry Guy: So It Goes
Two masters who have invented a (the?) lexicon for their instruments meet on So It Goes. British saxophonist Evan Parker and his compatriot bassist Barry Guy should need no introduction to anyone interested in European free improvisation. Both active since the 1970s, they remain vital forces even with as they both move into their eighth decade. Their association was formalized in 1980 with the inception of the long running trio completed by drummer Paul Lytton. But they have also appeared in duet many times, evidenced by four previous recordings, the most recent of which was Birds And Blades (Intakt, 2002).

So, 21 years later, a further bulletin arrives, captured in concert near Parker's home in Faversham in Kent, offering a welcome update on a fertile partnership. The five cuts comprise three duo pieces and a solo from each. As always, an intense communion and an astounding speed of response characterizes their interaction, even though the actual rejoinders themselves may be oblique (indeed one of their earlier albums was titled Obliquities). So, when Guy's fluttery filigree slurs early in "So It Goes 1," drawing an instant upticked echo from Parker's tenor, it stands noticeable as the exception not the rule.

More often any confluence is in pacing or intensity. When Parker breaks out his soprano on "So It Goes 2" to spin sinewy wisps of skirling piping, Guy takes up his bow for a similarly unbroken wail, which together set the overtones fizzing around the hall. Likewise, in "So It Goes 3," in one fleeting passage, both venture if not into the bounds of lyricism, then only just over the hill from it. Otherwise, they proceed in sequences of asymmetric lurches and sleek sprints which defy easy delineation.

The unaccompanied tracks reveal their styles in high definition. Guy revels in contrasts: high vs low; bowed vs plucked; tuneful vs prickly; dense vs spacious. "Grit" initially evokes the image of someone struggling to extricate themselves from among the strings, before a respite of delicate harmonics and koto-like rippling interrupted by a succession of ferocious flurries. Parker slips in and out of circular breathed lines so naturally and smoothly that it ceases to become remarkable. On "Creek Creak" he squeezes notes out until they expand, rejoicing in their freedom, the first of a series of ceaseless rivulets which fluctuate between registers and become hitched on recurrent snags.

Even though such outcomes, either alone or in tandem, are no longer unexpected, the overall conception remains astonishing. As such the chance for immersion in their symbiotic alchemy one more time is cause to cheer.

Track Listing

So It Goes 1; So It Goes 2; Grit; Creek Creak; So It Goes 3.


Evan Parker
saxophone, soprano
Additional Instrumentation

Evan Parker: tenor saxophone

Album information

Title: So It Goes | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Maya

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