|Left to right: Tony Marsh, Evan Parker, John Tchicai, Louis Moholo|
Lair of Evan Parker when he's in London, on 14 and 15 october the Vortex Jazz Bar hosted a quartet composed of drummers Tony Marsh and Louis Moholo Moholo, Evan Parker on tenor and John Tchicai on drums. The program of residence offers a couple of duo performances - Parker/Moholo Moholo and Tchicai/Marsh - before a final tutti.
Drastically late to report about the first duo performance - cabs are futile if you don't know the postcodes and I'm paying a fee for being in London only since one month and a half exacty - I can finally enjoy Tchicai and Marsh together. Tchicai style is recognizable since his first appearances on record, notably with the New York Art Quartet and their manifesto 'Black Dada Nihilismus', featuring Amiri Baraka on voice, that mislabeled him as a New York-based musician - in fact his most well-known collaborations of the '60s were related to NY artists like Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, John Coltrane and Albert Ayler - while he spent most of his playing in Northern Europe, being born in 1936 in Copenhagen.
His duo with Tony Marsh was of high interest since his "way of floating over [...] a non-metric pulse", as Evan Parker himself told to Graham Lock during an old interview for The Wire, produced a particular alignement with Marsh's way of building rhythms around a variously produced pulse, now explicitly stressed, then elliptically beckoned with brushes or a cymbal, and sometimes suspended with the purpose of opening the space for more stratified and rapid interventions. Such ability is due to his heritage, since Marsh started playing in the Seventies with the jazz-rock band Major Surgery, and then with people like John Surman, Mike Osborne, Paul Rutherford, Barry Guy, Elton Dean and Harry Beckett.
After a short break, the announced trio performance of Parker, Tchicai and Moholo Moholo became a quartet with the two horns and the two drums. While Marsh was mostly floating around with a saving feeling, without loosing his ability to express nuances, Louis Moholo Moholo pulsed almost (ir)regularly at the core, while Evan Parker showed, being this the fourth time I see him since in London, a notable versatility. Tchicai built his assertions in a way that is melodically reminiscent of the most obliques Albert Ayler lines and sometimes nod to the lyrical approach of John Coltrane, but with an attitude that reminds of Archie Shepp even if in a controlled and never redundant way.
If this description is a superficial and general statement, the result is a music that reaches climaxes avoiding dramatic constructions, and leads to an essential flow of music in which the peaks are never obtained with open references to the melodies but via the layering of different elements emerging with the interplay. Evan Parker in this context showed a great adaptability, sustaining and dialoguing with his partner. Probably tonight gig will be featured on a BBC Radio 3 future broadcasting or record.