Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Evan Parker Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Nearly all of the 250-plus albums on which Evan Parker has appeared could be considered unusual or unique in one regard or another, but this disc has a particular reason for such a description: The leader’s soprano saxophone isn’t heard clearly as a solo instrument until the disc’s penultimate track. Boustrophedon presents Parker the composer more than it does Parker the iconoclastic improviser. The Transatlantic Ensemble was heard on Roscoe Mitchell’s Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3, which ECM released last year. The same 14-piece group recorded this piece, which translates to “like an ox plowing.”

In keeping with that theme, the work is divided into six “Furrows,” as well as an Overture and Finale; at times the music has the turgid feeling of an ox pulling a plow through the muck and mire. Each section pairs an American soloist with a European-based counterpart, hence the “Transatlantic” name. Combinations include Neil Metcalfe’s and Craig Taborn’s tranquil flute and piano pairing, bassists Barry Guy and Jaribu Shahid locking of horns and Parker and Mitchell’s separate soprano solos. The “Finale” track features 11 of the players offering quick statements between dissonant and, finally, loud chords. Residing somewhere between chamber music and improvised structures, Boustrophedon offers a different view of Parker’s immense talent.