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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Evan Parker/Agustí Fernandez: The Voice Is One (Not Two, 2012) ****

Evan Parker and Catalan pianist Agustí Fernandez have been cooperating for more than a decade in different formations, as a duo on Temparillo (Musica Secreta, 1996), in a quartet with Barry Guy and Paul Lytton on Topos  (Maya, 2007) and Fernandez has been a member of Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble since Memory/Vision (ECM, 2003).  Both are excellent improvisers and both are gifted with an idiosyncratic musical language that enables them to ignore any restrictions that could prevent them from crossing expressive limits.

Although “Part 2” on this album is a Fernandez solo and “Part 4” presents Parker without his companion the title of the album is programmatic, on the album you can hear one voice, they are a small unit.

“Part 1” is the best example for this assumption. Parker starts really sensitive over typical Fernandez chords, his Spanish heritage shines through every note, almost drowsy music for a lazy siesta in the midday summer heat. Suddenly the music changes, it swells and implodes, it becomes stinging and hectic, you can watch it falling apart, swirling, tumbling, and twisting. And then Fernandez’ style morphs into a Cecil-Tayloresque mode, the 88 tuned drums appear out of the blue as if we went into a time machine and stopped in the late 1980s when Taylor met the European avant-garde in Berlin. You feel like having swallowed firecrackers and now you are listening to the mad things that happen inside your body.

Fernandez sticks to this percussive style in his following solo performance, the clusters are hammering against the inside of your skull. But as soon as he has come up with it, there is a metamorphosis of the atmosphere again, everything becomes more intimate and less aggressive, Fernandez pours out thrillers, Phrygian chords and arpeggio cascades and we are indulging in them before another duo takes over. Here Fernandez uses the whole interior of the piano as well, obviously using woodblocks and metal to create intensive strange vibrations and muffled sounds while Parker remains very reluctant in front of these textures. Both of them have been slowly constructing a multilayered collage. In the end the track becomes so fragile that it literally vanishes.

The following Parker’s solo recital is not surprising, however, it is a jaw-dropping circular breathing exercise once again proving his masterful command of the tenor, a beautiful sonic storm scraped out of the organic whole of the concert. Parker’s solo pieces have often been referred to as snake-like and indeed we are listening to a meandering sequence of tones that seems to creep into our ear canals.
“Part 5” and “Part 6” bring down the evening to a round figure, they refer back to the first track, again focusing on the two players as one voice.

“The Voice is One” shows how intimate Evan Parker and Agustí Fernandez have become, how well they interact. A really awesome free jazz album – nothing more but nothing less either.

“The Voice Is One” was recorded live on November 1st , 2009 at L'Auditori, Barcelona.

You can buy the album from 

© stef