Devoting more than forty years to the painstaking development of an individual style doesn’t mean that British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker eschews new challenges and collaborations. Live is notable, however, because Parker manages, without altering his distinctive reed patterns, to seamlessly match his contributions to those of the Paris-based trio Marteau Rouge. And Parker does so without upsetting the perceptive strategies that members of the trio have developed during their years together.
Marteau Rouge consists of guitarist Jean-François Pauvros, whose chiming runs and twanging licks often tread the line between rock and improv; unflappable drummer Makoto Sato, whose cymbal rasps and mercurial backbeats give direction to the trio; and synthesizer player Jean-Marc Foussat, whose quivering sine waves further cement the trio’s interaction.
Despite separately titled tracks, the CD is actually a solid, nearly eighty-minute performance. Parker makes one of his strongest interventions on Cinq, where his circularly breathed slurs and harsh multiphonics adumbrate Foussat’s sweeping metallic clangs and Pauvros’ hammering reverb—with the clash finally upended by soothing hand-drumming from Sato.
The synthesizer player ups the ante in the climactic Six, au temps des cerises by patching discursive crowd mutterings and radio static into the mix, as Sato whams, rolls, and ruffs, while Parker suavely operates on top of the extended intonation. In fact, his pitch vibrations and seconding honks are enough to mute the guitarist Pauvros’ amp-distorted grinds and flanges, down-shifting the piece to give prominence to connective string snaps and reed slithers.
Rather than being the proverbial fifth wheel, Parker’s circularly breathed outbursts balance the three other parts of this red hammer for smoother—and no less notable—sonic movements.