Adding another voice to an established improvising ensemble is more precarious than it seems. With a group having worked out strategies allowing for individual expression within a larger context — and without notated cues — the visitor (s) must be original without unbalancing the interface. Luckily the sessions here demonstrate successful applications.
Invited to Rimouski, Quebec to give a workshop, British saxophonist Evan Parker also participated in Vivaces (Tour de Bras TDB9006 CD), recorded with the 12-piece Grand groupe régional d’improvisation libérée (GGRIL) . Made up of players from different musical backgrounds living in the Lower Saint-Lawrence region, GGRIL is distinctive in that the group includes two electric guitarists, an electric bassist plus two accordionists, but only three horn players. Using these circumstances to best advantage, these tracks, alternately directed by Parker and GGRIL violinist Raphaël Arsensault, employ the accordionists’ tremolo pulsing and sweeping electronic oscillations to thicken the bottom. With upturned slices from the strings and barnyard cries from the squeeze boxes, two clarinets and the tuba, it’s often Parker’s restrained undertone that gives a linear shape to the improvisation. The best example of this is Marcottage that manages to include contributions from nearly every GGRILer. As Parker pushes forward with staccato split tones he’s backed by sympathetic grace notes from fellow guest, trombonist Scott Thomson, and skittering, slurring accordion lines. Triangle pings signal a timbral shift and presage a ferocious solo from the saxophonist. Band members’ responses range from rebounding percussion ratamacues, crackling electronic runs from the guitars and bass plus one accordionist sounding a faux balladic line as the other pumps powerfully. Finally the mass cacophony downshifts to a satisfying connective rumble.