Evan Parker/Django Bates – review

Vortex, London

"There's been a bit of a misunderstanding," pianist Django Bates brightly announced. "We thought we were guests of Evan's, and he thought he was a guest of ours." Contemporary-sax trailblazer Evan Parker had been invited to curate a five-night Vortex season for musicians he likes (from Oxford keyboard firebrand Alexander Hawkins to the tireless octogenerarian Stan Tracey) but a liaison with Bates's remarkable Beloved Bird trio was bound to be one of the most tempting prospects of the run.

Bates's trio with bass-and-drums partnership Petter Eldh and Peter Bruun delivered one of the great jazz albums of 2010 with its Charlie Parker interpretations on Beloved Bird. The "misunderstanding" was down to Parker's modest conviction that the crowd ought to hear those visionary rearrangements unimpeded. In the event, they made a compellingly varied show together. Tentative opening moments quickly turned to a maelstrom, with Parker's tenor sax delivering gruff eddies of sound and exclamations over Bates's runs and the agile pulse of Eldh and Bruun. The alertness with which the two jazz stars adapted their phrasing to each other was astonishing, and extended to abstract reinvention of the jazz ballad, too.

In the second set, the saxophonist sat at the side of the stage for a while, smiling at the tempo juggles, headlong bebop and hard-packed theme statements of Charlie Parker's Scrapple from the Apple and Moose the Mooche, some of the most inventive reappraisals of his work ever conceived. Parker resisted Bates's invitation to join a jaunt through Hot House, but when Bates swapped piano for tenor horn, the two set off on an exuberant dialogue that was nearly straightahead swing.

• This article was amended on 1 February 2011. The original said that Bates swapped piano for English horn. This has been corrected.

Contributor

John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Empirical/Django Bates/Evan Parker review – jamming tribute to Jazz on 3
Radio presenter Jez Nelson’s final BBC recording brought out a fizzy lineup of British talent to bid his influential show farewell

John Fordham

01, Mar, 2016 @2:08 PM

Django Bates | Jazz review
Vortex, London
British pianist Django Bates began Charlie Parker's Moose the Mooche theme as a rumble at the piano's bottom end, and had it hover insinuatingly there before the uptempo floodgates opened, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

14, Apr, 2010 @8:45 PM

Django Bates 50th Birthday | Jazz review
Kings Place, London
The British jazz star may be 50 but his torrential synth-playing and ensemble's park-on-a-dime precision are still dazzling, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

06, Oct, 2010 @8:59 PM

Jazz review: Django Bates stoRMChaser, Kings Place, London

Kings Place, London
Off the beat music which hurtles dizzyingly into space, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

20, Oct, 2008 @11:42 AM

Evan Parker/Stan Tracey/Clark Tracey – review
These three all-improv sets, as two duos and a trio, were well worth witnessing, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

31, Jul, 2012 @5:34 PM

Article image
Django Bates: Saluting Sgt Pepper review – jazz maverick's winning Beatles tribute
The unruly composer and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band began tentatively but soon let fly on an exhilarating reimagining of the Fab Four’s album

John Fordham

05, Sep, 2017 @3:04 PM

Article image
Evan Parker and the Necks review – delicate display of give and take
Sax innovator Parker celebrated his 70th with a birthday gig that highlighted his talent as both leader and follower, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

21, Oct, 2014 @2:17 PM

Django Bates: Confirmation – review
This excellent followup to his 2010 Charlie Parker tribute has a more even mix of covers and Bates' own themes, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

13, Sep, 2012 @8:37 PM

Django Bates: Like Life – review
An album of some of Bates's most characteristic pieces performed by his partners and the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

04, Aug, 2011 @8:31 PM

Django Bates, Hackney Empire, London

Hackney Empire, London.

John Fordham

27, Jul, 2005 @10:59 PM