Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp

Abbey Road Duos
Treader trd 009

Confluence of musical improvisations at the highest plane, this CD captures a cross-generational melding of minds between a veteran British saxophonist and an accomplished American pianist. Although tenor and soprano saxophonist Evan Parker (b. 1944) initially solidified his mature style around when Matthew Shipp (b. 1960) was taking his first piano lessons, the inspired performances suggest no generational or geographic gap.

If any fissure exists, it’s that the British reedist’s tone is initially uncharacteristically breathy and gentle on the four-track tenor saxophone suite. Later as the pianist’s undertow of arpeggios hardens to metronomic pounding, exposing the keyboard’s timbral limits, broad-chested tenor exhalations solidify into harsh split tones, reed bites and note smears.

Softer and more deliberate overall, the subsequent four-part soprano saxophone suite is nearly a scherzo. Shipp humorously and percussively pitches rubato patterns extended by pedal work in direct counterpoint to Parker’s pinched bubbles of whistling trills and tongue stops. Eventually the saxophonist expands his characteristic archetype of circular breathing tropes, squeezing and splashing tone clusters to outline the andante melody. Shipp’s repeated accompanying motif, hardens as it relies on continuous glissandi.

Abbey Road Duos proves that concentrated and cerebral inspiration trumps any purported differences when top-flight improvisation is fashioned

— Ken Waxman

— For Whole Note Vol. 13 #3