Evan Parker & Joe McPhee What/If/They Both Could Fly
Published Oct 18, 2013Parker and McPhee are two of the elder statesmen of the itinerant free improvisation community, travelling the world as solo artists bearing both the stresses and strains, as well as the robust compositional vision, of seasoned solo artists. Coming together to play in duo is quite another thing, given the iconic nature of both their backgrounds and their approaches: jazz-based African speechifying meeting the flights of European extrapolation. As in all such meetings, the question is: does it work?
Well, sort of. The conversation is considered, and the thematic connection is evident and works fairly well, but one gets the feeling that the solo interventions that operate as springboards do not as much lead to breaking new ground in duo music as they do in setting the stage for a literal response. Both stick to the tried and true, and that in itself is good work. However, if the listener expects any radical departures from that body of work or new insights into form, they will be disappointed. (Rune Grammofon)