AMN Reviews: Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton – Concert in Vilnius (2019; NoBusiness Records)

Parker, Guy, and Lytton are no strangers to one another. According to a quick and dirty count, this is their 17th release as a trio since 1983.  And even with nearly four decades of collaboration, they still have new statements to make as a group.  Recorded in October 2017 at the Vilnius Jazz Festival, the aptly titled Concert in Vilnius is about 55 minutes in length and spans four tracks. Parker plays the tenor and soprano sax, Guy the double bass, and Lytton drums and percussion. (But that instrumentation probably goes without saying, right?)

In short, this set is prime European free improvisation. The trio crafts a dense and information-rich offering, one in which the intensity ebbs and flows though the activity remains lively. Guy and Lytton, in particular, play artfully off one another with the latter moving in and out of structured forms and the former giving every inch of his instrument a workout. The theme, if any, is to do the unexpected – whether that means playing at the edge of hearing or making loud, abstract declarations. Parker provides his rolling solos, simultaneously melodic and angular, which often jolt his companions into even fiercer endeavors.

To these ears, this trio hits high points when they play all out, barely giving the listener a chance to catch up. These extreme passages sandwich quieter sections, which only makes them stand out even more. Ultimately, Concert in Vilnius shows that, at an age at which most of us have slowed down, Parker, Guy, and Lytton are still exploring rigorous new paths of outside jazz.

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