This live exhibition, recorded November 2009 at Bauhaus Dessau, builds on the simple premise of celebrating both the 90 years of Walter Gropius’ creation and the fourth decade of activity as a trio of Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Evan Parker and Paul Lovens. This notwithstanding, there’s absolutely nothing in the music that could be exchanged for “official”, if not plain commemorative. Over the course of an abundant hour, three of the most distinctive voices in the history of improvisation act without affectation, exploring a broad range of dynamics and relations.
Among the trio’s salient traits is the cutback of gratuitous flash in creative prototypes devoid of placid anchorages. During the 42 minutes of “Bauhaus 1”, for instance, we find several moments of unquiet interplay at the border between well-regulated agitation and rational investigation of a resourceful interconnection. Parker — who articulates visions exclusively through the tenor saxophone — is frequently heard tightening the reins of his renowned cyclical blizzards, channeling notes into structured spurts whose intermittence gives openings for considerate insertions by Schlippenbach and Lovens. The latter’s drumming is, as always, equally vibrant and weighty in the overall economy of the playing; occasionally, he seems to choose what to play based on timbral principles rather than an ephemeral propulsive necessity. At the end of the day, he’s completely right.
And then, naturally, you have Schlippenbach. A pianism that runs the expressive gamut with power, concentration, and grey-hued pensiveness: the beginning of “Bauhaus 2” is permeated by this sense of evaporating contentment, as if the musicians had suddenly decided to go for bitter realism after sharing long stretches of inspired eagerness. A total control on the mechanisms that police excessive virtuosity — never prevailing upon the unadulterated flow of imagination — is this sober master’s specialty, one of the main reasons behind the longevity of this unit and, accordingly, the symbolic extent of this CD.