Ventured out into public last Sunday to hear Alex von Schlippenbach (piano), Evan Parker (tenor and so sax) and Paul Lytton (drums) play at Tonic. Beautiful, long set with simultaneous cohesion, multiplicity and counterpoint. Packed house.
Parker played mostly tenor and leaned heavily on welcoming, splintered, Coltrany sounding twists and turns. There were several moments where, if I closed my eyes, I would have sworn I was listening to Glen Spearman. He also did his patented circle breathing multiphonic soprano playing, which I had never heard live. It made you wonder -- how multiple should something be? How multiple is/are the player/s?
The collective pulse and tonality was highly integrated for the entire hour and a half set. The sound person at Tonic had it up very loud on the board. That and the fact that I was standing at the back of the crowded club made me feel like I was at Bad Brains show. I couldn’t help wondering what it would have sounded like unamplified.
I wonder to what extent cultural transplantation might be at work listening to this: Afro American musical form, pickup up enthusiastically by Brits, and then play back to Americans. Like the Rolling Stones, but without the popularity dimension.
Schlippenbach was very conscientious in his structure building. Measured. He structured a section and then moved on to the next, continually developing and working indirectly form the sax and drums.
The cumulative effect of this music is a bit like some Iranian shenai music -- trance-inducing patterns, though there is almost no repetition as such in this trio. There is an overall effect of a multiplied drone. It involves not a fracturing of musical language, but a way of pairing down the rhythmic, intervalic and tamboural elements to a highly energized, subatomic level.
The overall dynamic of communication and collaborative layering took the subterranean aspects of connectedness and made them explicit.