Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton

Maya MCD0602

One live improvisation of over an hour that zips by with the velocity of a three-minute single, Zafiro confirms that one of improvising music’s most enduring partnerships – 25 years and counting – is still a potent and electrifying force

Refining their interaction every time they play together –saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Paul Lytton don’t lack for other gigs, but express instinctive rapport here. Veteran British improvisers, the three use a variety of advanced techniques, keeping things interesting by varying trio counterpoint with duos and solos.

Hitting the ground running, the trio is at the top of its form as soon as the first note sounds. Precisely triggered dynamism is quickly indicated with stuttering honks and elongated split tones from Parker, ratamacues and minute cymbal snaps from Lytton and rasgueado strums and spiccato patterning from Guy.

Characteristically, each solo delineates what each improviser does best. Yet the singular lines are never solipsistic, since each involves contrapuntal timbres layered on top of one other. Producing almost non-stop, circular-breathed reed-biting and key pops for instance, the saxophonist doesn’t operate in a vacuum, since his line is influenced by the bassist’s rapid-fire sul tasto strokes and reverberations. Similarly, the percussion showcase, which encompasses chains rattling on top of snares, discreet pressure on the cymbals and resonating taps of miniature bells, is polyrythmically complemented by Guy’s triple-stopping tremolo and shuffle bowing variations.

By the finale – that prompts the Barcelona audience to demand an encore – altered texture are so intertwined, that at points, Guy’s ratcheting stops, Parker’s sibilant overblowing and Lytton’s sandpaper-like brush work are virtually indistinguishable.

Ken Waxman

CODA Issue 333