By Ron Coulter
Bean Soup and Bouquets is a 2020 release on Eddie (Edwin) Prévost’s own label, Matchless Recordings and Publishing. It is a live concert recording from February of 2020 at London’s Café Oto featuring a reunion of Prévost’s 1970s free-jazz quartet, the Eddie Prévost Band with Prévost on drum set, Geoff Hawkins on tenor saxophone, Gerry Gold on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Marcio Mattos on double bass.
Prévost is most widely known from his 55+ years of textural and atmospheric improvising with the pioneering improvisation group, AMM. However on this free-jazz outing, Prévost displays a rhythm-oriented improvisational approach and an instrumentation (drum tuning and cymbal sound) showing the influence of, and reference to, traditional straight-ahead jazz.
The album consists of three tracks of 40’52”, 24’08”, and 5’42”, minutes in duration and the audio quality is excellent for a live recording. This is not the wall-of-sound approach to free jazz, but rather an approach with a high sense of orchestration and a conversational type of interactivity. The quartet has a strong sense of large-scale development, or pacing, to their playing as they move sensibly between solos, duos, trios, and quartets in a fluid and unforced manner. Even in the two lengthy tracks of 40’52” (“Bean Soup”) and 24’08” (“Bouquets”) there is a swinging sense of forward motion, melodicism, and emerging structure that captivates the listener over the extended listening experience.
While Prévost and Mattos generally provide an abstracted, swinging rhythmic underpinning, Hawkins and Gold trade loose melodic lines that sometimes interweave and trade phrases in a call-and-response-like manner. However, both Prévost and Mattos have engaging solo moments as well. Overall, this is a great album filled with excellent, mature improvising from four top-tier musicians.