At the Vortex last night, to see and hear Evan Parker in his monthly residency at this most august of venues. This time around, Evan chose to feature 80s British ‘jazz revival’ pin-up, Ian Bellamy on tenor sax, and the great modernist pianist Tony Hymas, a true inheritor of Paul Bley’s legacy, and a veteran of sessions with the likes of Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke and Jack Bruce.
The trio of Parker, Bellamy and Hymas occupied the first set, which, although slightly over long and featuring a rather narrow harmonic sound band (two tenors and a keyboard), gave us an extremely tight interactive environment, with the saxophones wound round each other in a staff of Mercurius -type way. Hymas’s comping was a model of tensile strength and restraint. He really is one of our most underrated improvisers. Bellamy is also a player of undoubted power and subtlety, and I was reminded, very strongly, of the early 60s Jimmy Giuffre Trio (with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow), given that Evan had previously played very successfully with Bley (and Barre Phillips) on ECM’s Time Will Tell..
The second set featured Tom Barford, another tenor saxophonist, who looked about 12 years old to me, and was in possession of a rather tarnished and venerable axe. But what a great player he proved to be, in a sax trio with Parker and Bellamy, accompanied by Hymas, three generations of reed improvisation, who gelled together magnificently and flawlessly, and who received a huge round of applause at the end of the their set. Barford is a name to look out for, the possessor of such a great tone for one so young. It was so encouraging to see such a cross-generation of the talents (Barford apparently turned up without notice and offered to play, which is a great example of extemporisation in itself).
It is great to see such young talent mixing it with the older improvisers, and it gives me further proof, if any were needed, that this music has a future.