Paris Transatlantic review by Jason Bivins

Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton + Peter Evans – SCENES FROM THE HOUSE OF MUSIC (CF 196)
When an improviser accepts an invitation to play with a combo of such long standing and immediate distinctiveness, is it better to try and fit in to a perceived aesthetic or to lob bombs in the hopes of destabilizing and redirecting things? In posing this question, I’m not suggesting that the PGL sound is in any way ossified, any more than the scads of other working groups that have so energized free improvisation over the decades. Just listen to the distance between, say, Atlanta and Zafiro as proof. Rather, there’s simply nothing else like the way they inhabit certain kinds of territories, and the peculiarity of their exchanges. On this fantastic festival date, Evans’ presence makes the music both more flinty and more burnished than before, in ways that recall George Lewis’ guest spot on Hook Drift & Shuffle. The trumpeter spits out fire, but also sails above the music and generates some wonderful counterpoint; he inserts himself into the dense foliage of the music but is also a quirky odd man out with his occasionally puckish, neo-freebop lines. And with the trio in such fine form, it’s a pleasure of a record. The grain of the music is subtle but it’s stitched together by that frisson we love in this band, its circulation of overtones, hints of melancholy, sudden dropoffs, and quicksilver pace. And while I want to keep raving about Evans, there are marvelous features for Guy (a wonderfully metallic solo to open the third “Scene”) and Parker (a frenzied skirl to open the fourth) throughout. Exploratory and intense as ever, this performance has an audible joy and humor to it that confirms the exuberance of the players.

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