Evan Parker: Breath and Heartbeat 3


Breath and Heartbeat 3




Breaths and Heartbeats

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Evan Parker (soprano sax),

Barry Guy (bass), and Paul Lytton (drums)


Composed by Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton


Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

Evan Parker is probably the most influential out of a group of superb British soprano saxophonists (which also includes Lol Coxhill and John Butcher) working far to the left of what is normally thought of as jazz, in an area probably better defined as non-idiomatic free improvisation. Parker has arguably been the most influential of the lot. He has mastered the conventional aspects of playing the soprano sax; he can go from any point on the horn to any other point with the greatest of ease and velocity. More than that, however, he's developed a manner of playing that comes very close to simulating a sort of non-tonal counterpoint. That should be impossible on a single-line instrument, and of course he doesn't do exactly that, but his ability to articulate and finger at super-human speed coupled with a manner of squeezing tones from all registers seemingly at once results in a music of mind-boggling complexity.

Of course, a music so intellectually rigorous and uncompromising won't appeal to everybody. Parker's long-standing trio with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton takes what is a fairly conventional jazz format (horn, bass, drums) and creates a steadfastly abstract music that dares anyone to place a label on it. "Breath and Heartbeat 3" is one of a series of free improvisations wherein the three men operate on the very edge of imagination and comprehension. They put it over by dint of their audacity—they don't care what you think, they're going to do what they do—and by generating a palpable collective electricity. Like it or not, its very manifestation is a creative wonder.

This music sounds nothing like jazz, but what else can it be? As the saying goes, once you eliminate all other possibilities, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the answer.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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