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Alder Brook (2003)

Evan Parker & September Winds
Peter A.Schmid (reeds)
Evan Parker & Jürg Solothurnmann (Saxophones)
Reto Senn (Clarinets)
Hans Anliker (Trombone)
Live Recordings from September Tour 2002 (Kirche Erlenbach, Switzerland)
Leo Records LR 379


CD review

Alder Brook brings together Evan Parker and the woodwind quartet September Winds in a sort of hybrid version of a woodwind quintet. Evan Parker plays soprano, tenor and contrabass saxophone, Peter Schmid plays bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, contrabass saxophone and taragot, Hans Anliker plays trombone, Jurg Solothurnmann plays alto and soprano saxophone and Reto Senn plays clarinet, bass clarinet and taragot. While the instrumentation may be both varied and unusual, the music improvised by the ensemble could fit in very nicely on a program of post-War (and post-tonal) concert music.In fact, one of the most impressive things about this live recording, taken from a 2002 concert in Kirche Erlenbach, Switzerland, is that the pieces are improvised rather than composed. The finesse of the post-tonal harmonic deployment, often spun out in limpid strands of linear counterpoint, would seem to belie spontaneous creation. Whether it is due to the performers' prior experience as an ensemble or consummate listening/interactive skills, group improvisation doesn't get much better than this. Take a work like "Seesicht", which favors extended techniques. All of the players contribute multiphonics, rasping tones and bent notes, and yet there is a sense of organic integration that prevents the piece's most noise-laced portions from descending into gimmickry.  The contrabass saxophones utilized here are a new design by instrument-maker Benedikt Eppelsheim, called the tubax. They are big, burly-sounding horns, and are quite impressive, particularly in sepulchrally low passages. The church acoustic is particularly efficacious for them, as its resonance causes the tubax (as well as the rest of the instruments) to sound larger than life. On "Sags Trio", the line between avant jazz and concert music is blurred -- the tubax drones that open the piece could be from an invocational portion of Rite of Spring, while the soprano saxophone solo seems to have been lifted straight out of a vigorous bebop tune.This hybridization of styles is just as heterogenous as the wind quartet's instrumental grouping. In addition to a singular sonic make-up, Alder Brook features a musical grammar apparently designed to fuse distantly related traditions. The term "Third Stream" has been much maligned (and glutted with mediocre associated repertoire), but Alder Brook actualizes the concept, combining jazz and concert music with compelling results.