Dave Holland/Evan Parker/Craig Taborn/Ches Smith

Uncharted Territories
Dare2 Records Dare 2-010

By Ken Waxman

Negating the generation gap, Britons, bassist Dave Holland, 71 and saxophonist Evan Parker, 73, join forces with younger Americans, keyboardist Craig Taborn, 48, and percussionist Ches Smith, 44, for an incandescent, two-CD set the nimbly cruises past any differences in age, nationality and orientation. Although playing together for the first-time, the four easily negotiate improvised duos, trio and quartets which commingle Parker’s exploratory leanings with Holland’s solid time sense.

What that mean, is that when for example on tracks such as “QW2” or “Tenor-Piano-Bass T2”, as Parker splatters split tones or unleashes chesty timbral variations, the broken octave continuum is maintained by double bass rumbles including perfectly rounded and arrayed notes, usually seconded by brief keyboard inserts and relaxed drum patterns.

Together or separately Taborn’s and Smith’s bravura skill is displayed, especially on “Piano-Bass-Percussion T2” where a series of dynamic keyboard arpeggios expressively meld with double bass rhythms; or how ambulatory vibraphone clips redefine the tempo on “Q&A” alongside reed flutter tonguing. But the CD`s apogee is in tracks from the Holland-Parker duo. Enough multi-string variables sound from Holland`s strings to personify a string quartet on “Tenor-Bass-W2” for instance, making space for Parker`s instantly identifiable multiphonic honks; while the ambulatory audacity of “Tenor-Bass-W2” is intensified by bent-string injections among brief bursts of characteristic saxophone circular breathing.

Comfortable in Uncharted Territories, this quartet deserves an encore. Instead of the 23 tracks here however, the four could develop an un-segmented suite of major proportions.

—For The Whole Note October 2018