Parker - Guy - Lytton

EVAN PARKER / soprano/tenor saxophones
BARRY GUY / double bass
PAUL LYTTON / drums, cymbals and percussion

Hans- Jürgen Linke (from a review in Frankfurter Rundschau 2007)

......Das eigentliche Barry-Guy-Trio aber ist das mit Paul Lytton , Schlagzeug und Evan Parker, Saxofone. Es besteht seit dreieinhalb Jahrzehnten und muss also einem grossen Bedürfnis seiner Musiker entsprechen. Seit je ist dieses improvisierende Trio ein Spielfeld der gemeinsam kultivierten Ekstase, in dem jeder mit der ganzen Welthaltigkeit und Sprunghaftigkeit, die seinem Ausdrucksvermögen eignet, sich mitteilt, und immer ist ein Konzert dieses Trios eine höchst spezielle Mischung aus eingespielten strukturellen Verläufen und gänzlich spontanen Augenblicks-Eingebungen. Wie ein einem geistreichen Gespräch gibt es auf jede Antwort eine weiterführende Frage und eine gemeinsame, nicht nachlassende Suchbewegung, und in der Unmittelbarkeit und der unfassbaren spieltechnischen und klanglichen Raffinesse, mit der die drei sich begegnen und mitteilen, erscheint wieder, was offenbar zumindest in Europa allen grossen Musikern als künstlerische Lebensaufgabe zugemutet ist: Einen angemessenen und daher unerhörten Ausdruck zu finden für das Beben ihrer Zeit.

Imaginary Values

nine improvisations by Francesco Martinell

Evan Parker's trio with Barry Guy and Paul Lytton has been a working group for ten years now, but began to function in its present form comparatively late, taking about the same time since the first documented contacts between the three musicians: they recorded together in the first edition of the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra in 1972, on Ode (for Jazz Orchestra) Incus 6/7, but their paths had already crossed in that ebullient scene of musical experimentation taking place in London at the end of the Sixties around spots like The Little Theatre Club and The Old Place.

Parker and Lytton first established their duo as a workable situation to improvise and released three albums: Collective Calls (Urban) (Two Microphones), Incus 5, At the Unity Theatre, Incus 14, and then RA 1+2 on Ring/Moers Music 01016. While collaborations with Barry Guy were rather sparse during the Seventies, Parker always considered the bass player first choice, and invited him for his Improviser's Symposium held during the 1980 Pisa Festival, where a quintet was recorded consisting of the current trio plus Paul Lovens and Phil Wachsmann (Incus 37). With typical caution, another duo situation was tried, this time with Parker and Guy, recorded in Berlin the following year (Incision, FM SAJ-35) and the compatibility was confirmed.

Tracks, Incus 42, the very first album of the trio recorded in 1983, seems in retrospective more than aptly named. Since then the group has been steadily or at least regularly working together, but the recorded documentation is apparently scarce: a second album where the three are joined by George Lewis on trombone (Hook, Drift and Shuffle, Incus 45) and another one recorded live in 1986 during a tour in the USA but released much later (Atlanta, Impetus 18617). One could think that the musicians have purposely kept the trio activity within limits. It could become all-absorbing totally dominating their musical lives, so closely knit is their musical collective entity. The clear, dry acoustic of the Red Rose Club in Seven Sisters Road, London where these improvisations were recorded – in the same sequence in which we hear them on the record – makes it easier to appreciate the tremendous excitement that the trio can generate, based on the uncannily instantaneous ability of the players to react to one another's gestures and all together to the situation they are playing in, creating a musical fabric which is at the same time steel solid yet pliable. Luckily they work in other contexts where they can expand their musical horizon: so the fertile musical mind of Barry Guy, the composer and orchestra leader, devised within his scores for the London Jazz Composers Orchestra all manners of interaction between the trio in different situations, placing the ensemble like a concertino in front of the tutti, rotating soloists against it, changing the background, or just using it for a change of atmosphere and timbral balance; and even Elsie Jo (Maya MCD9201) could be perceived as the trio mirrored in a sextet. The Parker section in Portraits, the latest composition by Barry Guy for the LJCO (due for release on the Intakt label) is not titled Triple by chance.

What the three have in common is an attitude toward music making that can best be described in Evan Parker's words as integrity of purpose: a determination to face openly the challenge of free improvisation, that inescapable tension between the establishing of a musical identity and the unhampered development of the music along its internal logic. Every improviser must try to find his or her way – willing or not – around this obstacle; mimicking historical styles, using written music as a framing/orientating structure for improvisation, trying to keep the group of players in a permanent state of flux. This trio keeps the music poised in a difficult balance where nothing is barred but everything must make sense.The players bring into the music all the experience, wisdom and technique gained in more than twenty years of struggle and play with free improvisation; the way they play – for want of a better word, their style – has been refined, and they say more with less, giving weight to every gesture.

Comparing this recording with previous documents of the trio or of the single musicians, it appears that a total, 360 degrees, experimentation slowly gave way, through a process not dissimilar from natural evolution, to a situation where selected elements are retained as part of the common language. This selection is still in progress, as chance, mistakes and loss of total control often introduce unexpected and interesting elements; but in some way they have identified what for them is essential, the areas where they are most interested in working.

The most evident of these is the personal, instantly recognizable, mature instrumental voice of the players. The crisp, tense drumming of Lytton, full of sparkling, atmospheric metal sounds, the rich sound of Guy's bass, its palette ranging from tuned percussion to classical roundness, the many tongues of the saxophones, Parker growling or chirping as the situation demands. In the intervening years they have grown increasingly wary of employing external, mechanic, electric, electronic devices to extract a wider range of sounds from their instruments. Experiments on that side have not ceased however. Parker has a permanent workshop with electronic instruments and computer, recorded with sampling and processing of sounds – Hall Of Mirrors with Walter Prati on MM&T CD01 – and with overdubbing Process and Reality, FMP CD37; Barry Guy explores several unorthodox techniques on his solo recording Fizzles, Maya 9301. The boundaries and aims of this research however are more definite, and they do not enter at present in the music of the trio, where the perception of the physical source of the sounds is always present. In Lytton's own terse words, 'the sources have remained the same: wood , plastic, metal, wire, rubber, skin, liquid, gas'.

On a second level, ferocious concentration and instantaneous interplay seem to be the basic components of their approach; no soloist with accompaniment here, no division between rhythm and melody players; it is sometimes difficult to say who is playing what, with the drummer bowing, the bassist hitting and swishing or slapping sound coming from the saxophone. Explosive sounds in the deepest range of the horn and percussion on the bass make you think of the drummer – and Lytton is maybe playing a small tinkling dance on the top of it; as in Value, a melodic fragment from the saxophone is instantly echoed on the bass, and the rhythmic profile of the idea ricochets at the same time on the drums. Duo and solo passages give air and space to the music, redirecting the energy, charging players and listener for the next reconstruction of the complete triangle.

At the level of material it could be said that every piece is about mood – the material can be a chopped rhythm, a delicate melody, or a timbric shade. Compare the contrasting openings of Invariance and Variance. In the former, the music starts from a deep, breathing, continuous sound, with all instruments (Parker on tenor) slowly changing the texture and building up rhythmic structures; in the latter a spacious ceremonial dance of clear gongs and singing bass establishes the atmosphere. When the music finds its direction, the basic idea is metabolized in a multidimensional space, where it is reshaped, reversed, remoulded, and then comes back in new form. The energy involved is enormous, but this is not mere energy playing, as the development of ideas never takes second place to the sound pressure generated, and there are always dramatic changes in the atmosphere, from the high density of thick, continuous layers of sound simultaneously generated to sparse, airy formations. An example is Identity , where at the beginning high, buzzing long sounds generated by the bowed bass are interspersed and contradicted, first by the cymbals and woodblocks, then by tongue slaps; skins resounding and swishing increase the dramatic content, while slashing figures appear on the soprano saxophone: the bass returns to a pensive mood, alternating between bowing and pizzicato to underline the intricate exchanges of drums and wind through several phases of variation in density and rhythm.

In this context Parker's solos cannot develop the level of intricacy they are capable of (try Conic Sections, ah uhm CD015, for beautiful examples), as the solo style is – in his own words – 'offered to the trio in sacrifice' to be played along with or to be broken into: listen in Distinction to the soothing big guitar sounds of the bass, and the dazzling rotating cymbal figures, commenting on the vortex created by the soprano, being attracted into it and then developing together the piece until the finale, when the soprano is pitched against the grainy dark background of bowed bass and long cymbal sounds, the piece resolving itself in sparse, classical, carefully placed sounds and accents.

This relationship with the solo music is rather the same for Guy; his solo recording already mentioned shows the maturity of his language, an array of timbres and notes disposed in space and time that require a solo situation to be displayed and appreciated in full, and that here are quickly absorbed by the great current of music emanating from the group: the percussive bass/duet Variance is a quick glimpse into this different sonic world, and must be carefully savoured to appreciate the resonant mbira or thumb piano sound coming from the bass.

All through this record, and more strikingly so in the shorter conclusive pieces, the music takes that ultimate sense of inevitability which signals the perfect combination of sensibility, timing and personal creative use of the instruments into a collective statement formulated right in front of the listener. And in the end this is what music is all about.

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Evan Parker - Barry Guy - Paul Lytton

By Bert Noglik

Improvisierte Musik, wie sie seit mehr als zwei Jahrzehnten in Europa entwickelt wurde, lässt sich nicht mehr regionalistisch ein - oer abgrenzen. Dennoch kann unschwer so etwas wie eine “englische” Komponente dieser Entwicklung ausfindig gemacht werden. Die Ernsthaftigkeit, mit der englische Musiker zur Wiederbelebung und zugleich zur Neudefinition musikalischer Improvisation beigetragen haben, ist an Konsequenz kaum überboten worden. Evan Parker, Barry Guy und Paul Lytton zählen zu den entschlossenen Protagonisten einer dem Kompromiss ohnehin ablehnend gegenüberstehender Szene. Die Radikalität ihrer Musik hat mit der länst abgenutzten, doch immer virulenten Vorstellung von Kunst als Bürgerschreck nicht das mindeste gemein. Parker, Guy und Lytton sind beharrlich Arbeitende, denen es um nichts Geringeres geht als um die Ausbildung einer neuen Klangsprache, einer neuen Art improvisatorischen Zusammenwirkens und neue Spielweisen, mithin um eine “Neue Musik”. Was - je nach Hörerfahrung - schon vertraut oder noch immer ungewohnt wirkt, hat bereits seine eigene Geschichte entfaltet, eine neue Kultur der Improvisation begründet. Zwei Jahrzehnte erscheinen, musikhistorisch betrachtet, als ein kurzer Zeitraum; gemessen an Lebenszeit und persönlichem Engagement kann solch langfristig angelegtes “work in progress” nicht mehr als vorübergehender Zeitstil oder Episode abgetan werden. Kontinuität und Veränderung, wie sie von Evan Parker, Barry Guy und Paul Lytton verfolgt werden, spotten dem schnellen Wechsel musikalischer Moden, der theatralischen Selbstinszenierung, den etablierten Kriterien der sogenannten ernsten ebenso wie den kommerziellen Hochrechnungen sogenannter populärer Musik.

Die Musik dieses Trios schöpft ihre Kraft aus dem Traditionsbezug wie auch aus dem Traditionsbruch. Am Anfang stand die Erfahrung des Jazz als eine lebendige Form musikalischer Improvisation. Nur ging es, wie Evan Parker einmal sagte, darum, Coltrane nachzustreben, ohne seine Musik nachzuspielen. Die Abkehr von der Imitation und die Suche nach eigenen Ausdruckpotenzen veränderten nach und nach alles, führten zur Aufhebung konventionell-thematischen Materials, zu einer nicht mehr in Solisten und Begleitende aufzuspaltende Interaktion, zum Verzicht auf Akkordschemata und swingende Jazzrhythmik. Erinnert das Klanggeschehen gelegentlich an die europäische Moderne, so folgt es dieser allenfalls assoziativ und unter Verzicht auf das der Neuen Musik zugrunde liegende kompositorische Kalkül. Was aussereuropäisch anmuten mag, ist nicht von fern ausgeborgt, verweist vielmehr auf musikalische Komplexität, die sich von konventionellen Formen europäischer Musiktradition weitgehend entfernt hat. Erhalten blieb hingegen eine musikalische Bewegungsenergie, ein physisch erlebbares Element musikalischer Spannung, das trotz Verfeinerung bzw. Abstraktion mit den Energien des Jazz noch immer ein einem - freilich sehr weit gespannten - Zusammenhang steht. So bewegt sich diese Musik zwischen feinstruktureller bzw. klanglicher Differenzierung einerseits und einer fast kultischen Intensitätssteigerung andererseits, gelingt in besten Momenten eine Symbiose aus Spontaneität und Konzentration, Purismus und Sinnlichkeit.

Improvisierte Musik wie die von Evan Parker, Barry Guy und Paul Lytton setzt individuelle Profilierung voraus und baut andererseits auf die Potenzierung von Einzelerfahrungen im gemeinsamen Spielprozess. Bereits lange vor Konstituierung des Trios haben die drei Musiker in wechselnden Gruppierungen zusammengearbeitet. In der zweiten Hälfte der sechziger Jahre trafen sie sich im Spontaneous Music Ensemble um John Stevens; mit der Gründung der Musician’s Co-op gaben sie ihrem Streben nach Kollektivität auch organisatorischen Ausdruck. Ende der sechziger Jahre schlossen sich Evan Parker und Paul Lytton zu einem über einen langen Zeitraum sporadisch arbeitenden Duo zusammen, das später durch Barry Guy zum Trio, gelegentlich auch durch den Posaunisten George Lewis zum Quartett erweitert wurde. Sind die Erfahrungen auf dem Gebiet der freien Improvisation über Jahre gereift, so blieb das Grundanliegen, die Spielsituation offen zu halten, bis zum heutigen Tag unangetastet.

Evan Parker zählt zu jenen Musikern, die das Vokabular dessen, was auf dem Saxophon gesagt werden kann, entscheidend erweitert haben. Doch Parkers Beitrag besteht eher in einer Vertiefung als in einer spaktakulären Vorführung der angeeigneten Möglichkeiten. Überblastechniken, Obertonmanipulationen, polyphones Spiel, Perkussivität, Zirkularatmung mögen als Stichworte genügen. Im Mittelpunkt steht für Evan Parker zweifellos die musikalische Mitteilung,. Kaum ein bedeutender Musiker der englischen Szene, mit dem Parker nicht zusammengearbeitet hätte - sei es Howard Riley, Trevor Watts, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Rutherford, John Stevens, Chris McGregor, Dave Holland, Tony Oxley oder Derek Bailey. Internationale Querverbindungen aufzuzählen, würde Seiten füllen. Erwähnt sei hier wenigstens Evan Parkers Zusammenarbeit mit Alexander von Schlippenbach - in dessen “Globe Unity Orchestra” wie auch im Trio oder Quartett. Was das Trio mit Barry Guy und Paul Lytton anbelangt, so ergibt sich ein weiterer Bezugspunkt im orchestralen Zusammenwirken: sowohl Evan Parker wie auch Paul Lytton zählen zum Stamm des “London Jazz Composers Orchestra” um Barry Guy.

Barry Guy, gleichermassen “klassischer” Kontrabassist und Komponist wie improvisierender Musiker, geht es darum, Erfahrungen aus beiden Bereichen produktiv zu machen, ohne sie auf eine gegenseitig abtötende Weise zu fusionieren. Bei der Arbeit mit dem “London Jazz Composers Orchestra” nutzt Barry Guy kompositorische Strukturen als “sozialen Rahmen” für improvisierende Musiker - Spielprozesse in Gang setzend, mitnichten von aussen gängelnd. Als Improvisator hat Barry Guy seit Ende der sechziger Jahre intensiv mit Musikern wie John Stevens, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Trevor Watts, Howard Riley wie auch seit 1970, mit dem Trio “Iskra 1903” (Paul Rutherford, Barry Guy, Derek Bailey bzw. Phil Wachsmann) zusammengearbeitet. Andererseits hat sich Barry Guy als Kontrabassist herausragender Orchester und Kammermusikvereinigungen einen Namen gemacht - als Interpret von Barockmusik, klassischem Repertoire, Neuer Musik und elektronischer Musik. “Für mich” , bekennt Barry Guy “ist improvisierte Musik die wichtigste Äusserung der letzten beiden Jahrzehnte, Hand in Hand mit der Entwicklung einer in hohem Masse ausgereiften Sprache, die in der Welt der Bücher und Partituren keinen Platz hat. Einer solchen Sprache zolle ich den ihr gebührenden Respekt.”

Paul Lytton spielte seit Mitte der sechziger Jahre mit den führenden englischen Improvisationsmusikern wie Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Paul Rutherford, Barry Guy, Howard Riley, Jamie Muir, John Stevens, Trevor Watts usw. zusammen. Bereits Ende der sechziger Jahre begann er, eigene Perkussionsinstrumente zu bauen und natürlich erzeugte Klänge live-elektronisch zu modifizieren. Paul Lytton hat zur Realisierung seiner Klangvorstellungen eine neue Spielweise und zugleich ein neues Instrumentarium entwickelt. Er lebt seit Mitte der siebziger Jahre in Belgien und arbeitet langfristig mit dem Perkussionisten Paul Lovens zusammen. Trotz deutlich unterschiedlicher musikalischer Mentalitäten sind sich beide im Spielprozess musikalisch mitunter dermassen nahegekommen, dass die beim Hören der Aufnahmen beiderseits gestellte Frage “was it me?” sogar den Titel für ein Duo-Album des gemeinsam betriebenen Plattenlabels “Po Torch Records” abgab. “Die Betonung des perkussionistischen Aspektes in der improvisierten Musik”, sagt Paul Lytton “brachte es mit sich, dass alle konventionell bestimmten musikalischen Elemente neu definiert werden mussten. Es ging nicht mehr darum, wer wen begleitet, sondern darum, im Prozess dichter Interaktion eine neue Art von Dynamik zu entwickeln”.

Im Trio dann: äusserste Konzentration, Komplexität, Verzicht auf historisch strapaziertes Klangmaterial. Punktualisiertes Geschehen und kollektive Verdichtung. Eine neue, andere “Neue Musik” - signifikant und aktuell, mit Beharrlichkeit entwickelt und der Verfestigung trotzend. Die wichtigste Kraftquelle, so Evan Parker, liege in der Entwicklung selbst: “Je stärker und purer die Musik, desto mehr Energie entsteht aus dem Spielprozess.” Es bedarf keines grossen theoretischen Überbaus, um zu erkennen, dass Ethik und Praxis der Improvisation für Musiker wie Evan Parker, Barry Guy und Paul Lytton untrennbar miteinander verbunden sind. “Nicht jede improvisatorische Äusserung ist zugleich musikalisch von Belang, aber die lebendige Entwicklung der Musik ist ohne die Praxis der Improvisation kaum vorstellbar.” Der Satz stammt von Paul Lytton und erinnert an Sentenzen von Derek Bailey, könnte aber auch von Barry Guy oder Evan Parker formuliert worden sein. Das Trio Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton gibt Sätzen wie diesem, die leicht abstrakt wirken können, einen konkreten Sinn, einen musikalischen.

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Music for David Mossmann (Intakt CD296)

more reviews can be found on the Intakt Records website :

If musical publicity ran even with musical quality, there would be no need to introduce the trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton, a group with individual ties running back to the late 1960s that were formalized in this trio in 1980. It might be convenient to think of them as one of the signal groups of European improvised music, British Chapter, but their roots and ties run further back and further afield to post-bop and free-jazz and the stunning tenor-bass-drum trios led by Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler.
The music may be tender or explosive (it would be easier to detect it if it were slowed down), but its dominant texture is that of philosophical dialogue , a rapid conversation in which participants discourse while responding to the simultaneous intrusions of partners in the fray, who may quibble or launch counter-offensives, sending the first speaker to submit background material or new support for his previous theses. Contrarily , it’s like a romantic Paris street flight among kickboxers and ballet dancers or the sound of Tibetan throat singers polyphonically amused at a genuinely cosmic joke.
Are there individual highlights ?
Everywhere , including the first segment which begins with Lytton throwing down all the Latin and African drum patterns you might imagine at once, or the middle zone of the long third segment when Guy sounds like a bass duet and Parker introduces a circular-breathing reverie.
(Stuart Broomer, the

Over 35 years and counting. It's fair to say that the British trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton constitutes one of the longer-lived units in the free improvised realm, a domain often distinguished by its tendency towards ad hoc groupings. So, with a discography over two score in size, you can be sure that when a new release arrives it documents something worth hearing.

And that is indeed the case with Music For David Mossman, dedicated to the founder of London's Vortex Jazz Club where the music was recorded in concert, which hints at a more serene, more introspective aspect of what can still be a ferociously focused outpouring. Maybe that's at least partly a consequence of the subsequent editing and programming undertaken by Parker, to construct the four pieces presented here from two live sets.

Even though they now only come together a few times each year, the connections between the three men have never seemed stronger. That's obvious straight from the off in "I," which begins with a wonderful duet between Guy and Lytton. Although out of the blocks gingerly, once the bassist echoes Lytton's tappy patter, it results in the drummer ramping up the emphasis, and the interplay soars. But if that suggests an impending all out assault, it's not to be. In one of the many mercurial transmutations which pepper this disc, the impetus abruptly ceases and, when Parker joins Guy's glacial resonances, it's in subdued, even melancholy, mood.

Notwithstanding such switchbacks, the default remains rapid-fire interaction notable for the density of information imparted at pace, due not only to speed of thought but also speed of execution. Each is a groundbreaking and influential master of his instrument. Guy's unaccompanied introduction to "II" draws on some of his innovations, as he extracts wobbling metallic overtones through a rod threaded between his strings, alternated with sharp plucks and ringing twangs, with all the elements made audible through judicious use of a volume pedal.

Lytton enjoys a brace of turns in the spotlight on the lengthy "III," one showing his proficiency on the conventional sonorities from bass drum, cymbals and snare, but the other made up of simultaneous rustling, rattling and scraping noises from the array of percussive implements which supplement his kit. For his part Parker not only indulges in the expected prolonged passages of circular breathing, generating a querulous falsetto to crown his burnished serrated lines, but also edges within shouting distance of lyricism on more than one occasion. But at the start of "IV" that reflective mode becomes prominent once more, as he initially holds back from leaping into another note-filled extravaganza.

Put simply, it's a dazzling account from a superlative threesome revealing a hitherto underappreciated emotional dimension to the richly-detailed tapestry they weave.
(John Sharpe, All About Jazz, September 2018)

Zafiro - MCD0602

One live improvisation of over an hour that zips by with the velocity of a three-minute single, Zafiro confirms that one of improvising music’s most enduring partnerships – 25 years and counting – is still a potent and electrifying force
Refining their interaction every time they play together –saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Paul Lytton don’t lack for other gigs, but express instinctive rapport here. Veteran British improvisers, the three use a variety of advanced techniques, keeping things interesting by varying trio counterpoint with duos and solos.
Hitting the ground running, the trio is at the top of its form as soon as the first note sounds. Precisely triggered dynamism is quickly indicated with stuttering honks and elongated split tones from Parker, ratamacues and minute cymbal snaps from Lytton and rasgueado strums and spiccato patterning from Guy.
Characteristically, each solo delineates what each improviser does best. Yet the singular lines are never solipsistic, since each involves contrapuntal timbres layered on top of one other. Producing almost non-stop, circular-breathed reed-biting and key pops for instance, the saxophonist doesn’t operate in a vacuum, since his line is influenced by the bassist’s rapid-fire sul tasto strokes and reverberations. Similarly, the percussion showcase, which encompasses chains rattling on top of snares, discreet pressure on the cymbals and resonating taps of miniature bells, is polyrythmically complemented by Guy’s triple-stopping tremolo and shuffle bowing variations.
By the finale – that prompts the Barcelona audience to demand an encore – altered texture are so intertwined, that at points, Guy’s ratcheting stops, Parker’s sibilant overblowing and Lytton’s sandpaper-like brush work are virtually indistinguishable.
(Ken Waxman, CODA Issue 333)

……Parker is with another other renowned trio which also includes Guy and Lytton, who present their take on the hardscrabble, turn-on-a-dime world of attuned improv on (2). Though the group has worked together on and off for forty years as part of various ensembles, they have been a working group for over a quarter century. This performance, recorded in March of 2006 at a Barcelona auditorium, was their first gig together in several months and the excitement of this reunion is palpable. The entire performance is captured here, including an encore, with convenient access points to break up the program. From its initial moments, the trio is on fire, with Guy and Lytton churning the stew amidst Parker’s jagged whirls. After a bass and percussion interlude, the third section features another invigorating cascade similar to its initial engagement. While the trio works splendidly together, bridging the overall group unions are a stream of solo and duo journeys that drift both in and out of range while keeping the overall conception together. For instance, Lytton’s unique approach is highlighted on the fourth section, while Lytton and Guy stretch their percussive muscles on the fifth and eighth sections, the latter highlighted by Guy’s whirlwind arco flights. Parker also wields his soprano here, which is particularly incisive during the bass/soprano duet of the sixth and seventh sections, the latter of which centers on Parker’s otherworldly technique and vivid sonic picture. The final section is truly awe-inspiring, as the impending doom, a gritty tension and elaborate sounds build and then slowly drift away. As for the encore, the nine-minute energy-filled postscript harkens back to the concert’s initial spark, with Parker’s tenor soaring as Guy and Lytton march along mightily. An exhilarating portrait of Parker- Guy-Lytton circa 2006.
(Cadence Magazine, May 2007)

Imaginary Values - MCD9401

"Imaginary Values by the trio – nominally Parker's but in practice collective – that gave us 1990's fiery Atlanta set on Impulse. The nine improvisations here are more compact but no less high-voltage: bright sonic canvasses on which texture, tone-colour and dynamic flow are major parts of the interactive mix. The players' scrupulous respect for nuance plus their incredible speed of response bespeak a group sensibility that has matured over time and is celebrated here in a space alive with joyful interplay. Free jazz at its highly-evolved best."
(Graham Lock)

"... This is a group that in many ways, represents the epitome of European collective free improvisation. The three players are each masters of their instruments and, more importantly, astute listeners. Lytton's crackling, multi-hued percussion; Guy's currents of resonant wood and scraped, plucked, bowed and beaten strings; and Parker's micro tonal, snaking reed reverberations meld into a unified whole. These three have refined the sax, bass, drums trio into an organic unit where all three are truly equals, their collective lines intricately enmeshed and coiled around each other in a skein of thrilling complexity ..."
(Michael Rosenstein)

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Scenes In The House Of Music Parker/Guy/Lytton and Peter Evans

Parker/Guy/Lytton is already a classic trio, even if this group is continuously changing what we think we know about the music played by Parker with Barry Guy and Paul Lytton. But when they're associated with someone like trumpeter Peter Evans, we can anticipate a journey into uncharted territory. In "Scenes in the House of Music", the quartet with Evans is something else entirely, as is the combination of Lytton, Guy with Evans, without Parker. Any previously released P/G/L improvisation won't prepare you for this. Refreshed, sometimes more edgy, on occasion more "driving" or even "jazzy", here and there with a chamber feeling, the music on this CD is of a particularly high level of refinement – one of trained spontaneity. All the musicians listen before playing, and what they play is in close interaction with what the others do. This isn't only free music, it's also egalitarian music, even given the difference of age between the P/G/L and the band's guest Peter Evans; and in return Peter Evan's respect for the older artists is audible, but it is never reverential. On the contrary, he's always trying to take them out of their confort zones. The really delicious parts happen when the veterans shake the young performer's world, showing him, and us, that they're still the masters of this game.
(Cleanfeed Records)

Visions of the abstract
by Richard Williams

The news of the death of the photographer Jak Kilby has saddened all those who called him a friend. I met him in 1969, when he was a year or two into his work of chronicling a section of London's jazz scene bracketed by two bands: the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and Chris McGregor's Blue Notes. That lasted through '70s and into the '80s, resulting in a valuable record of the work of musicians such as John Stevens, Trevor Watts, Dudu Pukwana, Louis Moholo and many others.
Jak was a warm, kind man, and he was close to the musicians. He shared houses with some of them and drove them to their gigs in, as Trevor Watts told me, a series of vehicles that invariably broke down. He loved the music -- and that was how it was always known: the music -- because, I think, of its human qualities and a spirituality that was inherent even in the playing of those who did not think of themselves in such terms. (Later he converted to Islam, adopting the name Muhsin, and moved to Malaysia, the base from which he travelled to explore the Muslim world.)
Since the news came through I've been listening to a new CD by the saxophonist Evan Parker, the bassist Barry Guy and the drummer Paul Lytton: three musicians regularly captured by Jak's camera in his early years on the scene. It's called Concert in Vilniusand was recorded in the Lithuanian capital in October 2017, making it the fruit of almost half a century of collaborations.
Starting out when jazz-based free improvisation was in its infancy, each of them achieved a great deal in terms of expanding the vocabulary of their instruments, which was always part of the project. Now we can listen to them expressing all the wisdom and confidence of their maturity in a language -- individual and collective -- that they created.
Of the four pieces that make up almost an hour of music, perhaps the most ear-popping is Part III, which opens with a prodigious solo by Guy, using many different resources to make his bass sound like a regiment. It moves into a passage of astonishingly detailed and dynamic percussion/bass dialogue, and then reaches full trio-sized fruition with the arrival of Parker, who unfurls one of his most astonishing tenor improvisations, moving from brusque lyricism to those mind-bending skirls that seem to exist in two or three adjacent dimensions.
The idiom may be half a century old, but it will never be an easy-listening experience; it demands attention and commitment from the listener as well as from the player. What Jak Kilby and other lovers of free improvisation recognised early on is how risk is answered by reward to a degree unavailable in any other kind of music. In those moments it can reach the sublime, touch the infinite.
* Concert in Vilnius is released on a Lithuanian label called NoBusiness Records. The photograph of Guy, Lytton and Parker is from the CD insert and was taken by Vytautas Suslavičius.

Technical rider

1 small table for bows, brushes, sticks (Barry Guy)

Amplifier: one bass amp and 15" speaker (or combo) of very good quality e.g. Hartke or Gallien Krüger, SWP or Trace Elliott.

1 Jazz Drum kit (important: NOT rock & roll kit) for Paul Lytton

Snare drum and stand, 12" small tom tom, 14" large tom tom, 18" Bass Drum (with front head), 3 cymbal stands, hi-hat, drum stool, bass drum pedal. Drums must have Remo Ambassador Heads or similar NOT oil filled heads.

If the venue is supportive of acoustic music, the trio will only need amplification for the bass. Otherwise PA system with monitors for the three musicians plus microphone for Parker etc.


1986, ATLANTA, Impetus IMP 18617
1994, 50th BIRTHDAY CONCERT, Leo CD Schlippenbach trio on one CD; Parker/Guy/Lytton trio on the other LR 212/213
1996, AT THE VORTEX, Parker/Guy/Lytton Emanem 4022
1996, THE REDWOOD SESSION, Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Paul Lytton with guest Joe McPhee CIMP 101
1997, NATIVES AND ALIENS, Parker, Guy, Lytton & Marilyn Crispell LEO CDLR243
2000, AFTER APPLEBY , Parker, Guy, Lytton & Marilyn Crispell (2 CD set) LEO CD LR 283/284
2002, At les instants chavirés, Evan Parker, Barry Guy & Paul Lytton psi 02.06
2004, GUBBRÖRA, Sandell, Stackenas, Parker, Guy, Lytton psi 04.10
2006, ZAFIRO, Parker, Guy , Lytton Maya MCD0602
2007, TOPOS, Agusti Fernandez, Parker, Guy, Lytton Maya MCD0701
2007, HOOK DRIFT & SHUFFLE, (re-issue of 1983 LP) George Lewis, Parker, Guy , Lytton psi 07.07
2010, NIGHT WORK, Parker , Guy, Lytton Marge 46,
2010, SCENES IN THE HOUSE OF MUSIC, Peter Evans ,Parker , Guy, Lytton Clean Feed CF196CD
2013, LIVE at Maya Recordings Festival, Parker, Guy, Lytton No Business Records NBCD55
2018, MUSIC FOR DAVID MOSSMANN, Live at Vortex London, , Parker, Guy , Lytton Intakt CD296