In the wake of Evan Parker
's 2013 and 2014 residencies at New York's The Stone, a slew of tremendous recordings has emerged showcasing the British saxophonist's encounters with the luminaries of the downtown scene. Prominent among them are Miller's Tale
(Intakt, 2016) with the electronics of Ikue Mori
, violinist Mark Feldman
and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier
, Either, Or And
(Relative Pitch, 2014) with the same pianist, and Ninth Square
(Clean Feed, 2015) with guitarist Joe Morris
and trumpeter Nate Wooley
. But arguably, none of them has the impact of Sounding Tears
, which matches the reedman with violist Mat Maneri
and pianist Lucian Ban
New Yorker Maneri already enjoys an ongoing collaboration with Brooklyn-based Romanian Ban, which resulted in Transylvanian Concert
(ECM, 2013). With Parker on board they mine a rich seam of austere beauty on a program of ten cuts which include five group collectives, two duos, and three compositions, one of which is for Ban alone. The overarching feel is of restrained passion, manifest particularly in Maneri's sighing and murmuring viola. On piano, Ban never strays too far adrift from at least the outer reaches of lyricism, keeping the proceedings anchored in tonality.
From the haunting "Blue Light" to the delicate tracery of "Scilence" via Maneri's darkly understated yet exquisite "Blessed," Parker deploys all his accustomed expertise in extreme technique in a way which convinces as both soul-stirring and fiercely directed. He revels in a mercurial duet with the violist on "The Rule Of Twelves" and repeats the trick more gently on the wonderful "This!" in the company of the pianist where the interaction becomes almost earthy as Ban touches on a bluesy roll and some Monkish intervals.
Barely raised voices presage bursts of subdued excitement and ultimately dashing interplay on the penultimate "Paralex," testament to the threesome's quick reactions and close listening. That only serves to heighten the affect of Ban's lovely concluding "Hymn," which conjures a hushed space, like entering a church, embellished by the astringent interweaving of viola and tenor saxophone. By maintaining such a firm focus on a relatively narrow emotional range, aptly summed up by the title, Parker, Maneri and Ban have struck gold.
Blue Light; Da Da Da; The rule Of twelves; Blessed; This!; Sounding; Polaris; Scilence; Paralex; Hymn.
Mat Maneri: viola; Evan Parker: soprano and tenor saxophones; Lucian Ban: piano.