Dave Green Trio + Evan Parker: Raise Four

Bassist's 2004 session featuring Monk, Strayhorn and a free improvisation is released on the occasion of his 80th birthday

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This album came about through an invitation by radio presenter and producer Jez Nelson for bassist Dave Green to put a project together for BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3, resulting in him using his trio with guest Evan Parker, with whom he worked in Charlie Watts’ Big Band in the 1980s. The introductory interview is a useful potted history of Green’s early career, and as Green says, “the essence of the music is improvisation”.

Three tracks are Monk compositions, “so open and so free”, and all take on board what’s needed – urgency, energy and imagination. Title track Raise Four is from Monk Underground, but faster than the original, the two tenors of Parker and Iain Dixon in tandem more or less from start to finish. It’s played with great momentum, Green relating to the soloists and to Gene Calderazzo’s flurries, punctuations and occasional explosions, adjusting his bass line accordingly. Both bass and drums urge and press the horns into weaving forceful patterns, full of rhythmic propulsion.

Parker’s soprano supplies the call on Shuffle Boil, Iain Dixon the responses on his wonderfully woody, resonant bass clarinet, whilst Green’s walking bass pins it down; Calderazzo is again a busy presence.

Played Twice is another lesser-known Monk number, from 5 By Monk By 5, on which I always felt cornettist Thad Jones seemed a little too airy. Here both horns give it greater definition and Calderazzo helps by snapping and biting before winding it up with a neat cameo.

Strayhorn’s beautiful composition A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing sees Parker on tenor, Dixon on clarinet, both staying close to the melody and playing with sensitivity, love and respect, as befits it.

Ex-Changes is the only fully improvised piece, which Green leads into as a feed, inviting contributions. These are short but straight to the point. Dixon’s clarinet obliges then the tenor of Parker, at first warmly smooth, turning staccato, a feather-dusting ambush. Bass sweeps up, giving appropriate symmetry to the piece.

It’s an enjoyable album with first-rate playing – and I have no hesitation in recommending it. The release coincides with the leader’s 80th birthday celebrations – so I hope I can wish happy birthday to a mainstay of British modern jazz from all at Jazz Journal.

Discography
Jez Nelson / Dave Green interview; Shuffle Boil; Ex-Changes; Raise Four; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing: Played Twice (43.39)
Green (b); Iain Dixon (ts, cl, b.cl); Parker (ts, ss); Gene Calderazzo (d). Kingston-upon-Thames, November 2004.
Trio TR605