531

Evan Parker: The Topography of the Lungs

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Evan Parker: The Topography of the Lungs 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.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Psi | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Joy Comes Back" CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "2-Man Jazz Band" CD/LP/Track Review 2-Man Jazz Band
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Migration Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Summergold Promises" CD/LP/Track Review Summergold Promises
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "Mingus, Mingus, Mingus" CD/LP/Track Review Mingus, Mingus, Mingus
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!