Free Jazz review by Stef


Peter Evans Quartet – Live in Lisbon (CF 173)
****

Liner notes rarely describe the process used (and why should they?), yet on this album it is almost programmatic : “In addition to being an interesting way to connect improvisation with fixed materials the players are likely to already have under their fingers, it is also great fun to see what elements of surprise we can squeeze out of something that, on its surface, may seem very familiar“.So writes trumpeter Peter Evans in the liner notes of this incredibly jazzy yet equally modern piece of music. The familiar material are harmonies and melody from “All The Things You Are”, “Lush Life” and “Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love”, to name but a few.

Evans is joined by Ricardo Gallo on piano, Tom Blancarte on bass and Kevin Shea on drums. The music is incredibly complex. Themes change, tempos change, rhythms change : and this several times within the same piece, and not at the same moment, but sometimes in overlaying structures, demanding incredible skills (and concentration!) from the musicians. The result is nice. Inventiveness abounds, the music changes itself the whole time, like a kind of sonic caleidoscope: you can’t know what comes next, yet it follows logically and unpredictably from the previous notes, all in the same frame and structural context. The creative discipline and musicianship are stellar.

Yet in the end, it gives me a little bit the same feeling as the later albums by the Empty Cage Quartet, or some of Dave Douglas’ music: the musical skills combined with intellectual play with structure create a more distant feel than the expressive and soulful straight from the heart jazz that gets my preference. It is musicians’ music of a very high level.
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