Digital recording made in London at The Vortex - 1996 June 26.
Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Paul Lytton. This trio has been going on since the mid-'80s, but the musicians were already playing together in various outfits in 1966. There is no shortage of albums by this band, but At the Vortex ranks as one of, if not downright, its strongest recording. Why? Because it was done in perfect conditions, with all musicians in astonishing shape, on home court, so to speak: downtown London in front of an enthusiastic crowd of hard-core fans. And because that night's performance is presented unedited, all 78 minutes split into two extended sets. Listen to Parker's circular breathing solo at the beginning of the second set: He is literally smoking. Guy burns his double bass to the ground; Lytton is everywhere at once. The energy is discharged in spasms of sound, one cathartic moment after another. And yet, there is no going overboard or becoming your own stereotype. The strength, the inspiration, the spirit, the simple joy of playing together: That's what this music is all about. Of course the standard saxophone/bass/drums trio format calls for something a little jazzier than usual, but Parker remains true to himself, firmly anchored in free improv waters. Unless you are incapable of a long attention span, At the Vortex is an essential recording, even a good place to start for newcomers. One tip: In order to put all the music on one CD, applause has been edited out and only five seconds were left between sets. Do yourself a favor: After the first set, press the "pause" button and take a couple of minutes off, like the musicians and the audience must have had that night. You'll feel fresher when the magic starts happening all over again.
All Music Guide