Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci


cf-125TOWNHOUSE ORCHESTRA – Belle Ville  (CF 125)
A lot of improvisations are ruined by someone s’ try to outguess and often outmanoeuvre the companions, in the attempt of sticking a “me, myself and I” label on what should ideally be considered a collective effort. Those are the moments in which a being – especially a so called artist – reveals its negative nature, despite the apparent accomplishment of a sonic consequence. This sense of anti-hygienic virtuosity is nowhere to be found in Belle Ville, a 2-CD set by the all-star quartet of Evan Parker on tenor sax, Sten Sandell on piano, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on double bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums recorded live at the namesake venue in Oslo. The music, subdivided in two sections of about 45 minutes each – named “Belle Ville” and “Ville Belle” (d’oh!) – belongs to that neighbourhood of jazz whose products stimulate the proper kind of zip both under conscientious scrutiny and via a hassle-free approach to the listening. For the occasion, Parker bargains the large part of his everlasting roundabout tumults for a stout semi Braxton-esque jargon, an attitude explicated by beefy spurts and stalagmite-like excrescences, ears perennially open to any proposition turned up by the rest of the team’s brainwaves. Sandell’s pianism is frequently uncharacteristically neat, even contemplative in parts; yet the hazardousness of some of his solutions is probably among the most distinctive traits of the album, a lesson in free-climbing on the spiky rocks of erratic rigorousness. Håker Flaten and Nilssen-Love determine the ebb and flow of the session, at times leading the dynamics towards a quasi-static kind of suggestion, otherwise driving the essence of the interaction through the unsafe waters of swinging freedom without losing the hub of rhythmic repercussion, as always the hardest assignment for a role as important as theirs is.

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