All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

531

Evan Parker: The Topography of the Lungs

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Originally released in 1970—with catalogue number Incus 1, thus launching Evan Parker, Derek Bailey & Tony Oxley's famous label—this is a long awaited and historic reissue. When Parker and Bailey went their separate ways in 1987, Parker took his Incus recordings and other archived material with him. Since the advent of Psi, most of his Incus recordings have been re-released there, with others mooted (Circadian Rhythm?).

However, there was a long-standing agreement between Parker and Bailey—at the latter's request—that this recording would not be released as long as Bailey remained a director of Incus, which he did until his death last December. Fittingly (and touchingly, given the Bailey-Parker rift), this release bears the dedication, "In memoriam Derek Bailey 1930-2005.

The 21-minute "Titan Moon (which occupied the whole of side one of the LP release) immediately sets the scene. Although free improvisation was at least five years old by the time this album was recorded, the trio's playing still shows clearly discernible links to free jazz. It is already a long way forward from, say, Joseph Holbrooke or even early SME, but still light years away from Company with its deliberate avoidance of jazz vocabulary and syntax. In 1970, free jazz and free improv were still joined by an isthmus, albeit one that was rapidly being eroded.

"Titan Moon would fox many a listener in a blindfold test: Parker's playing clearly shows a debt to Coltrane; crucially, Han Bennink's remorseless drive gives the music an irresistible pulse and a sense of boundless energy and forward momentum; maybe most surprising, Bailey's guitar is in transition from a traditional (mainly supportive) role within the trio to something more iconoclastic.

Both For Peter B and Peter K (the title acknowledging the vital influence of the Berlin scene) and "Fixed Elsewhere are similarly transitional. Again, Bennink propels them along with typical verve—but with few traces of his lovable eccentricity. Only on "Dogmeat, which closed the original album, are there clear signs of future developments into improv as it would become. The three players seem to have no model of how the piece will develop—it is shaped by their reactions to each other and consequently it is ever-changing in its focus, its tempo and its energy levels. Tellingly, Bailey's profile is higher here than in the preceding pieces.

The original master takes of the album are now lost, so this CD has been remastered from the best LP version available (a virgin Japanese pressing, not surprisingly). But fear not, the sound is high quality throughout. Two previously unissued pieces have been added to the original material, and while it is nice to hear them, they provide no great insights beyond the original LP.

Given its legendary status—brought about by decades of scarcity (and awesome auction prices)—it is inevitable that this release has a sense of anticlimax for some; nothing could live up to their expectations. Nonetheless, as well as being an illuminating historical snapshot, it is thoroughly excellent and still sounds remarkably fresh, in the pole position for reissue of the year.


Track Listing: Titan Moon; For Peter B & Peter K; Fixed Elsewhere; Dogmeat; Found Elsewhere 1; Found Elsewhere 2.

Personnel: Evan Parker: saxophones; Derek Bailey: guitar; Han Bennink: percussion.

Title: The Topography of the Lungs | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Psi

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fearless And Kind CD/LP/Track Review
Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Any Day Now CD/LP/Track Review
Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Adrift CD/LP/Track Review
Adrift
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Folkjazz from Finland CD/LP/Track Review
Folkjazz from Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "World Domination Vol 1: Furie" CD/LP/Track Review World Domination Vol 1: Furie
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 20, 2018
Read "Hidden Details" CD/LP/Track Review Hidden Details
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 15, 2018
Read "Acknowledgement" CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Don't You Wish?" CD/LP/Track Review Don't You Wish?
by Patrick Burnette
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Ruby" CD/LP/Track Review Ruby
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 10, 2018
Read "Intention" CD/LP/Track Review Intention
by John Sharpe
Published: April 18, 2018