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Evan Parker/Craig Taborn/Sam Pluta/Peter Evans: Rocket Science

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Some forward-looking albums can serve as great casual listening. But Rocket Science, four sonic explorations performed live by a collaborative quartet in London, isn’t one of them. On tenor and soprano saxophones is Evan Parker, long a leading light of the European free-jazz scene. On piano is Craig Taborn, an indispensable sideman whose solo and trio albums are among the most acclaimed jazz recordings of the past couple years. Two slightly younger standouts from New York’s experimental scene, Peter Evans on trumpet and piccolo trumpet and Sam Pluta on laptop computer, round out the ensemble.

The nearly hour-long program, for all its otherworldly squeaks and splats, is clearly more than just four guys fooling around. Parker’s sax sounds fairly traditional for a stretch toward the beginning of the opener, “Fluid Dynamics,” with Taborn adding energetic abstraction about six minutes in, soon joined by computer atmospherics from Pluta and exploratory lines from the two horns. The performance wraps up after 17 minutes with a final thought from Evans’ trumpet. The three remaining pieces-“Life Support Systems,” “Flutter” and “Noise Control”-are of somewhat lesser length, with calm and vigorous moments alternating and the emphasis throughout more on ambient sound than virtuosity. This music takes concentration, which might be easier to come by when experiencing it live. But there is beauty to be found in it, for those willing to make the effort.

Originally Published