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After Appleby by Evan Parker Barry Guy Paul Lytton Marilyn Crispell

After Appleby is a two-disc set featuring music that saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Barry Guy, percussionist Paul Lytton recorded in June of last year. The first disc features material from a June 28 studio session while the second disc chronicles a live performance on June 29. Beyond these basics, perhaps the most obvious comment is that there is just so much great music here. Both discs clock in at over 60 minutes and have nuisances too numerous to count. I tried listening to both discs in one sitting but I had just barely begun the live recordings before I felt too drained to continue. This music will wear you out because it touches an emotional nerve.

The first disc chronicles the four musicians in the studio on June 28. Like many excellent leaders before him, Parker is willing to lie low and this shows up immediately. The disc's first track is a wonderful piano and bass duet called "Warp." Both Crispell and Guy set dark tones yet they veer off in slightly different directions even while playing together. Guy plays the part of moving around the edges and always staying beyond the reach of prediction. Here, as on the rest of the disc, Guy alternates from playing with his hands and a bow to great effect. Listeners will be unsure where he is going next yet will certainly enjoy the ride. In contrast, Crispell moves in a consistent emotion around one theme with only slight variation. A constant sense of emotional consistency is the one quality the keeps the two players together.

This is just one of six duets found here. There will be another one between Crispell and Guy but two more each by Crispell and Lytton and Parker and Guy. All of these tracks provide an opportunity for remarkable interactions.

That tightness does not go away on this disc's two quartet tracks. The musicians all sound in sync with one another and avoid competition in favor of working together. On "Where Heart Revive," Parker's playing appears to wrap around while Crispell and Guy - keeping their work warm and under control. Lytton, for his part, usually provides a much-appreciated topping to the combination. He eschews the kit and standard, even for this type of music, rhythms in favor of adding dabs to the music. Nonetheless his influence is undeniable. Lytton's frantic playing on "Blue Star Kachina" turns what would be several slight up ticks in the music into outright sonic uprisings. Later on this track -probably the best on either disc- Parker takes the leadership role and takes the other three down the winding, tornado like path, that ends with the same speed at which it moved. Parker's playing and interaction with the other musicians reminds me greatly of Roscoe Mitchell although Parker seems to have an inclination to be slightly more curious and a little less deliberate than the Chicago legend.

The second disc contains live recordings from the four on June 29. There are only two tracks here but the first one is over 51 and a half minutes long while the second track is just a second shy of 16 minutes long. Qualities like the impressive interactions between players are as apparent on the second disc as they were on the first. That said, this disc has a much more "live" feel to it. Lytton is more apparent and constantly pushes the music forward. The percussionist also deliver what is probably the highlight of the disc with his solo that occurs a little over half way through the first track. Lytton integrates seemingly everything from marching band to esoteric world music influences to make for a highly engaging section. Interestingly, Parker is less of a force on this disc. Throughout the first track, his role is more of adding color and texture than being the center of attention. On the second track, Parker does not appear at all and the trio that results provides a fine meditation to cool off the emotions that the first track provoked. Crispell's piano work is beautiful and fast yet never seems overdone and unduly busy. Both Guy and Lytton take on a highly harmonic role with the music and show that they are more than capable of pulling this off.

Of course, all of After Appleby is an experiment that lesser musicians could not have pulled off. Fortunately we get hear these four players in this setting.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Evan Parker Barry Guy Paul Lytton Marilyn Crispell
  • CD Title: After Appleby
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Record Label: Leo Records
  • Musicians: Evan Parker (tenor & alto saxophones), Marilyn Crispell (piano), Barry Guy (bass), Paul Lytton (percussion)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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