Peter Evans may be best known as the virtuosic trumpeter of Mostly Other People Do The Killing, bassist Moppa Elliot’s simultaneous tribute to and
deconstruction of jazz traditions. Meanwhile, though, Evans has other dimensions, both as a free improviser and as a bandleader. Each aspect is emphasized in one of the contrasting bands heard here.
Parker / Guy / Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (CF 196)
Since the early ‘80s, the trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton has developed a profound level of interaction,
virtually redefining both the rate of musical information exchanged and the expressive potential of free jazz. Through the years, the group has welcomed a few distinguished guests, including George Lewis and Marilyn Crispell; for Scenes in the House of Music, Evans joins for a concert in the Casa da Musica, a gem-like concert hall in the Northern Portugal city of Porto. It’s tribute to the trumpeter’s intrepid creativity that he fits so well with the group, matching the sonic exploration of his solo performances to the rapid-fire shifts – in texture and in the alternately fragmentary and tumultuous rhythmic language – that in part define the Parker Trio. Each of the five improvised episodes is around 13 minutes long, identified by just “Scene” and number, and develops a shape of its own, often contrasting solos and duets with intense group dialogues. The interplay of the two horns is remarkable. At times Evans’ singular blasts and flurries can recall Don Cherry’s role as foil to some of the great tenor saxophonists of the ‘60s while at other moments he and Parker match one another’s timbres in a way that’s uncanny.
Peter Evans Quartet – live in Lisbon (CF 173)
Evans’ own band conception, as heard with his quartet at Lisbon’s Jazz em Agosto festival in 2009, is a radical mashup that layers the chord changes of standards like “All the Things You Are” and “What Is this Thing Called Love” with atonal and free elements, at times creating dense stacks of contradictory structures. These are sometimes employed freely by the band while at other times diverse parts will suddenly reassemble on a beat. Just as Anthony Braxton has in the past, Evans seems to reinvent the jazz crisis of the early ‘60s when chord changes were literally breaking up before one’s ears. If the most technically-gifted trumpeters of that era had a reluctant relationship with free jazz, it’s a joy to hear in Evans a trumpeter with the brash virtuosity of Lee Morgan or Freddie Hubbard who has embraced a radical freedom. His quartet here – pianist Ricardo Gallo, bassist Tom Blancarte and drummer Kevin Shea – tears into the special challenges of this music with rare aplomb. While descriptions of Evans’ hybrid music can suggest a bizarre stunt, it’s much more than that. It’s often genuinely beautiful, at times in a traditional way and also moving, in a way that seems quite new. While these bands are very different in their forms and textures, both CDs are among the most accomplished releases of 2010.