Negating the generation gap, Britons, bassist Dave Holland, 71, and saxophonist Evan Parker, 73, join forces with younger Americans, keyboardist Craig Taborn, 48, and percussionist Ches Smith, 44, for an incandescent, two-CD set that nimbly cruises past any differences in age, nationality and orientation. Although playing together for the first time, the four easily negotiate improvised duos, trios and quartets which commingle Parker’s exploratory leanings with Holland’s solid time sense.
What that means is that when, for example, on tracks such as QW2 or Tenor-Piano-Bass T2, Parker splatters split tones or unleashes chesty timbral variations, the continuum is maintained by double bass rumbles including perfectly rounded and arrayed notes, usually seconded by brief keyboard inserts and relaxed drum patterns.
Together or separately, Taborn and Smith’s bravura skill is displayed, especially on Piano-Bass-Percussion T2 where a series of dynamic keyboard arpeggios expressively meld with double bass rhythms, or on Q&A where ambulatory vibraphone clips redefine the tempo alongside reed flutter-tonguing. But the CD`s apogee is in tracks from the Holland-Parker duo. Enough multi-string variables sound from Holland’s strings to personify a string quartet on Tenor-Bass-W2 for instance, making space for Parker`s instantly-identifiable multiphonic honks – with the ambulatory audacity of the track intensified by bent-string injections among brief bursts of characteristic saxophone circular breathing.
Comfortable in Uncharted Territories, this quartet deserves an encore. Instead of 23 tracks such as those here, however, the four should consider developing an un-segmented suite of major proportions.