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Evan Parker, Chris Corsano, John Coxon, John Edwards. Cube Jan 25

January 26, 2009

To the Cube, home of all things gritty, cutting edge and left field, to hear some “all-star” free jazz. A contradiction? Well, there was a full house, and folk were turned away, so someone out there likes this stuff!

Those of us who squeezed in (it’s pretty comfortable in the auditorium, actually) heard a treat. Well, a whole series of them. First Parker and the astonishing virtuoso bass player John Edwards in duo – two very compatible players. Then guitarist Coxon and the US percussionist Corsano (heading back there this week after several years’ sojourn in the UK). A new player to me, he is wonderfully skilled and imaginative, and really allows you to appreciate the sound of the drums. Coxon is fonder of strangled chicken guitar sounds than I am, but did some nice things with a beat-up piano, in an Oriental sort of way.

Then all four together after the break. This foursome avoided squeaky bonk cliches, sounding mainly like a regular jazz quartet who happen not to care for prepared music or conventional progressions (though there were some actual chords now and again from the guitar – a bit reminiscent of Terje Rypdal’s early stuff, for me). Parker (who amusingly scored a composers’ award from Hamlyn a little while ago: good for him) seemed the dominant voice. Playing tenor all evening instead of the more customary soprano, he and the bass reunited in the lower register, but now enhanced by the other pair, especially the drummer. There was a brief episode of his patented cascading waterfall style just before the end, but he mainly played gruff, angular lines with and against the bass. They mostly began hesitantly, tentatively, as these kind of improvisations sometimes do, but built into something, I thought, rather majestic.

Edwards strikes and strokes any part of the bass he feels like, but has a wonderful sound when he just plays the strings. Absorbing to watch, too, a very physical player. Corsano filled out the soundscape with some deft embellishments, including at one point just making sound by dropping cloths onto the drum skins – subtle!

All in all, an entirely successful evening, over too soon.

Next: Julian Arguelles at St Georges, where I fancy there may be some tunes…

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