EVAN PARKER soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
PAUL RUTHERFORD trombone
HANS SCHNEIDER double bass
PAUL LYTTON percussion, live electronics
1 - DARK INTERIOR - 60:50
Analogue concert recording by MICHEL W. HUON
during LE FESTIVAL JAZZ ET MUSIQUES IMPROVISÉES,
Waterloo - 1985 August 17
Total time 60:52
All of the performance is included unedited
Chance! With all respects to the memory of John Cage, it's not really what the music included on this CD is about. Rather a matter of co-operative understanding of living the music, genuine individual statements related to the group's music with an almost telepathic co-ordination of their four independent voices.
It sounds great not only because they are fine players/soloists (Evan's sound on tenor sax is marvellous here, and Rutherford has a truly unique London accent), but rather due to the care and sensitiveness with which they "speak together" following the tacit imaginary path of the performance… a sense of manipulation of time and space… this feeling of relaxation… the melodic motive which Evan and Paul R. shared spontaneously and came back here and there…
I'm not giving the details about the festival where this gig took place (at a time when this sort of music went "out of fashion" among media, concert organisers and record producers). Only one thing! The inside of the room was clothed with black curtains in order to modify its acoustics (mainly echoic). A sort of tent which covered the +/-200 square metres of the place due to the expert stage management of recording engineer Michael W. Houn. They played the last gig of the day at midnight.
So here you have the columns of air of Evan Parker and Paul Rutherford 13 years ago, with the "old kit" of Paul Lytton (Chinese drums, Dexion rack, old telephonist's mike, etc… somewhat simplified if you compare the mad set-up of the 70s) and the quiet Hans Schneider replacing Barry Guy (who was unavailable) on a dry acoustic bass. Hans was a frequent collaborator with Lytton in groups with reedists Wolfgang Fuchs and Floris Floridis. His remarkable job here puts this Parker aggregation in another light, as do the passages of restraint and silence from the percussion chair. For me, a moment of truth in succeeding in improvising music together. I would like to thank them again for their total involvement in performing this gig.
JEAN-MICHEL VAN SCHOUWBERG (1998) [the organiser of the festival and the concert]
"A single, hour-long improvisation from players who will be familiar to many readers, in a setting which is similar in sound to Parker's celebrated trio with Paul Lytton and Barry Guy. Rutherford's presence adds an extra element of rough-and-tumble into the mix, and the group's occasional references to more recognisable forms of jazz are swept up in a tightly ensemble-based sound.
What is it, exactly, that Parker's groups play when they play this kind of stuff? It's free jazz, in a sense, but not the same sense that Charles Gayle plays free jazz. The rhythm drifts rather than swings (even when it drifts hard, if such a thing is possible) and the bluesy feel of much free music is replaced with a convoluted linearity more reminiscent of early Coltrane than the later incarnation. The fact that Parker and Rutherford have been playing together a long time shows in their interweaving of melodic lines and their ability to let different combinations of players come to the fore at different moments.
Parker and Rutherford spend much of their time presenting extended soloistic statements accompanied by the others, alongside the full-blown quartet music. Parker, in particular, lets fly a ferocious bout of circular breathing late on in the piece, strongly recalling his solo performances, with which the others interact in a way this writer has not heard on disc before. Rutherford's status as one of the two or three most important improvising trombonists in the world will be only bolstered by this disc, too; he gets plenty of space, and he uses it to stunning effect.
The close relationship both horn players have with Lytton is evident in the
trust they place in him. He moves the pulse extremely slowly, marking it out
with his ride cymbal but allowing it to float in time between the very
spaced-out beats. At the same time, his drums are often attacked with
extremely frantic movement. A musician unaccustomed to his playing might find
this duality, this tendency to contain frenetic action within a slow-moving
and flexible envelope, off-putting at first. Yet Parker and Rutherford know
exactly what he's doing: he's working at the quick-moving details in the music
while keeping a watchful drumstick on the larger picture. This prevents the
group from scrabbling about just as it gives them plenty to play with in the
moment, and the result is masterful music.
Schneider is less well-known in Britain, of course, and his contribution here is a little muted. Occasionally he lets rip and gets himself heard, as he does in duet with Lytton's electronics about halfway through the set, creating a complex, layered sound including pizzicati, arco notes and percussion. Mostly, though, he adds occasional touches to the group sound, and it would be good to hear him in a more intimate setting where his voice can be heard more clearly.
Virtually anything involving Parker tends to be essential, but because he releases so frequently it's impossible for any but the most fanatical collectors to keep up. This is a set which has plenty to recommend it. Although a single, hour-long take doesn't tempt you to dip in, it does show these players working out their ideas over an extended period, which is always revealing and which is unusual for Parker, on disc if not on stage. It's the sound of four musicians playing hard but not over-cooking the music, serving up some serious brain-food in the process."
RICHARD COCHRANE- MUSINGS - 1999
"Waterloo 1985 is so epic that it takes repeated listens to just comprehend all that is going on. The foursome probe the boundaries of silence and sound, building one vivid, energetic montage after another. Parker and Rutherford, both go medieval, with the trombonist going through his entire bag of tricks, warping growls and slurs with heart-stopping inventiveness. Parker, alternating between soprano and tenor saxophones, takes the whole entourage to another level with some heated monologues and exploration of his own."
FRED JUNG - JAZZ USA - 1999
"This 'live date' signifies the British Free-Jazz movement at its best, as Evan Parker (saxes), Paul Rutherford (trombone), Paul Lytton (perc), and Hans Schneider (bass) present a case study in improvisation. Dark Interior is the lone piece here and clocks in at 61 minutes. The proceedings commence with Paul Rutherford and Evan Parker jabbing, sparring and eventually veering off into their own circuitous paths. The sense of drama ensues as the cunning dialogue intimates feelings of deep-rooted conversation as if there were a plot or fable in the works. Here, the vivid imagery may suggest that Parker and Rutherford have agreed to go separate ways with the understanding that they will meet or convene at a predetermined location and time; hence, the journey begins.
Throughout, Lytton provides the rhythmic structures yet, seems to explore more of the tonal aspects while providing colour via small percussion instruments. Parker, utilising his soprano sax reconvenes with Rutherford as if to discuss their personal experiences or tales of expedition. Bassist Hans Schneider is the link or perhaps the common denominator while the group interplay and dialogue runs rampant yet shifts gears and intensity throughout. 40 minutes into this piece Evan Parker takes a solo flight on soprano sax purveying his now signature style circular phrasing and rapid-fire delivery. At this juncture the great Evan Parker shows his true genius and technical gifts in glowing if not unbelievable fashion. Parker's almost superhuman technique and discipline is truly awe-inspiring. Many have tried to emulate him in this manner; however, few souls on this planet are blessed with such technical capacity or proficiency. If you have never heard Parker play and often wondered what the fuss is all about, WATERLOO 1985 would certainly be a good place to start. Superlatives aside, this is truly mind-boggling stuff!
It must have been a great day in Waterloo, as the band follow up Parker's flawless yet virtuous display of craftsmanship and re-emerge with rich thematic banter as this piece reaches its finale. WATERLOO 1985 is improvisation of the highest order! Again, the imagery and beauty of it transcends words as the listener's imagination is put to work. * * * * * Excellent"
GLENN ASTARITA - ALL ABOUT JAZZ - 1999
"The intoxicating spirit of the kind of 'free' improvisation that this disc exemplifies comes from the in-the-moment interplay between the players, a microscopic call-and-response activity that creates a music of flows, eddies, tensions, and releases. Over the single hour-long track on this disc, Evan Parker , Paul Rutherford, Hans Schneider, and Paul Lytton play undulating music of otherworldly calm, furious sparks and shards of energy music, death-defying leaps and gear changes: in short, an entire thesaurus of melodic, harmonic, dynamic and timbral possibilities, waxing and waning, combining, separating, and recombining, and finally reaching and sustaining the ineffable "magic" that Steve Lacy identified as the essential, the sine qua non of 'free' music that is worth hearing.
'Free' belongs in quotation marks because this kind of improvisation is really by no means free. It is bound by the possibilities of the instruments (extended as they may be in the hands of these masters), by the players' own habits of playing and favored stylistic approaches, and by what has just been and already been played in real time. Herbie Hancock once cited an incident during his celebrated stint with the Miles Davis Quintet in which he played a wrong note - staggeringly, immensely wrong, by his account. But Davis, with awesome cool, immediately made Herbie right with his own note choice. This disc is an hour of these four players making each other right, consistently and repeatedly. Davis himself, and many others to this day, might have sneered at this kind of music, charging that a musician in this setting could play virtually anything, and it would sound right.
But listen. Open ears will grasp immediately that that isn't what these players are doing. Listen to any few minutes of group interplay and you will hear hundreds of audible reactions, as one player interacts with another, changing direction at another's musical cue, commenting, augmenting, expanding on what has already been said. Listen to how percussionist Lytton punctuates the solo sections of Parker and of Rutherford. Listen to how Schneider - as a fill-in for Barry Guy, the sleeper of this disc - changes his approach depending on the direction taken by one of the horn men. Listen to how Parker (an unsurpassed master at this) takes up melodic fragments played by others, repeating and transmuting them.
Anyone who listens in this way will recognise that this is music of tremendous excitement. Anyone who listens will recognise that this is a masterwork."
ROBERT SPENCER - ALL ABOUT JAZZ - 1999
"Taken from a vintage of Parker's music that is still scarcely represented on disc, this release presents that evening's seamless, hour-long concert in its entirety. With bassist Hans Schneider subbing for Barry Guy, as well as the lineup being extended to include trombonist Paul Rutherford, the music produced is of a considerable different character than Parker's regular working trio. What is typical is the highly intuitive, responsive music, full of microsecond adjustments and superlative soloing. However, this music feels incredibly relaxed, full of slowly simmering interplay that can be brought to a full boil in seconds. Percussionist Lytton permits more space than we are accustomed to hearing from him, choosing not to press with his patented lightning fast pulse, but instead serving up subtle cues and interjections. This leaves Rutherford and Parker free to enter into a superbly symmetrical exchange, where the saxophonist's abstract circular swirls of multiphonics and overtones are greeted by Rutherford's buoyant and no less technically brilliant blasts. Together, this quartet creates a loose, long form improvisation that is surprisingly accessible without being predictable"
JON MORGAN - CODA - 2000
"If freely improvised music is your bag, this disc is for you. As is often the case with this sort of thing, the instrumentation will mislead the unwary: not only is this not jazz, unless you listen closely you might not even believe that the instruments listed are the ones being used. That's because Schneider and Parker, in particular, employ extended techniques that produce lots of sounds not normally associated with their instruments -- whistling overtones from the bass, grunts and mutters from the sax, random skitterings from the percussion. The program consists of one hour-long track, but its texture varies significantly as players drop in and out or turn temporarily to more lyrical approaches before returning to the skronky mayhem that prevails at the beginning and end. No, it's not for everyone. But then, lots of great music isn't for everyone. Take a chance."
RICK ANDERSON - ALL-MUSIC GUIDE - 1999
"Probably the most surprising outcome of the social and artistic upheaval which characterised the 1960s was the birth of free improvisation. Its prodigiousness and maturity were an even greater surprise. This music danced almost before it could walk and sang before it could talk; it was preternaturally wise and astoundingly eloquent. Though its DNA was almost identical to that of American free jazz, an evolutionary leap had occurred. Whether it was a leap into the abyss, as many music critics predicted, only time would tell.
By the mid-80s, not only had the music come of age, it had developed a metalanguage in which players like Evan Parker and Paul Lytton were almost supernaturally fluent. This fluency is much in evidence on WATERLOO 1985, and anyone who admires what Parker and Lytton do will derive considerable satisfaction from this CD. The mix sometimes disadvantages Hans Schneider, but, as the music is mostly quiet and spacious and breaks down into organically evolving solos, duos and trios, his double bass can always be heard.
He's a less forceful player than Guy, and that, coupled with Lytton's bantam kit (tiny drums and tiny cymbals possessing swift attack and an almost equally swift decay, which incline Lytton toward flurries of sound, a veritable hailstorm of percussion) accounts both for the skittishness of the music and moments of tense and unstable calm. Paul Rutherford's trombone wheezes and whispers through the latter sections, and his drones tease pitch and indicate trajectories the music might take. Elsewhere, his more robust articulations hint at an expansive free jazz. The players mesh well, and the music is at all times shapely and coherent. Were I obliged to recommend only a single recording of free improvisation from the 1980s, Waterloo 1985 might well take the prize."
BRIAN MARLEY - RUBBERNECK 2000
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