Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Saxophone duets featuring Anthony Braxton (alto, sopranino) and Evan Parker (tenor, soprano).
Recorded live at Bloomsbury Theatre, London, England in May 1993.
A live duo performance by musicians of this extraordinarily high caliber occasionally results in something incredible but perhaps more often describes a battle of egos with neither side giving in. In this case, the participants appeared willing to compromise and to some extent lay aside their commitment to the vast and idiosyncratic musical structures that they had developed over the year. If the recording still fails to live up to impossibly high expectations, it is nonetheless a fine album on its own merits. The session consists of five improvisations of varying moods, textures, and intensities. Much of the time is spent in areas of surprising lyricism and restraint, as on "ParkBrax #3," a lush, contemplative piece. But even when things become somewhat frenetic, as on the second and fourth tracks, the absolute control of these masters over their instruments is clear. Toward the end of this piece, they engage in a fascinating dialogue in the extreme upper registers of the sopranino and soprano saxophones that few others could possibly pull off without sounding unbearably shrill. Each voice is utterly distinctive; Evan Parker with his non-stop fluttering swirls, Braxton with his plaintive and keening phrases. As John Fordham points out in the liner notes, one can hear echoes of reflective players like Paul Desmond and Warne Marsh who, while always having been reigning heroes in Braxton's pantheon, are not musicians one normally associates with Parker. But listening to Parker's beguiling tenor on the last cut, one can almost imagine that maybe this is close to what Desmond and Marsh would have produced, had they been playing in duet in 1993. ~ Brian Olewnick
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