Saturday, September 29, 2012

Variations On The Canon

Evan Parker and Georg Graewe, 
Dortmund Variations
Nuscope Recordings

Evan Parker - Tenor Saxophone
Georg Graewe - Piano

No one has conquered the demands of free improv like Evan Parker. And while at this stage of his career you pretty much know what to expect from him, his mastery of the idiom still makes it a pleasure to hear one of his performances. Dortmund Variations, recorded as part of a Graewe-curated Ruhr 2010 series, consists of three improvisations lasting from eleven to thirty-seven minutes. Parker sticks with tenor throughout, and he and Graewe engage in meaningful conversation that is characterized by subtle shifts in emphasis and tone rather than demonstrative displays of emotion. Think of a stream that’s polished the stones below as opposed to waves crashing over coral. (Wow, I’m going to have to work on my analogies!) Graewe’s notes unspool at a pretty consistent pace, and that’s my one quibble with the performance; a little more contrast from him would have benefited the whole. Still, it’s a dialogue that’s worth listening in on – and attention to the shades of meaning proves a rewarding experience.

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