Evan Parker, Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban The Vortex, London 4/5
THE VORTEX in Hackney, east London — itself a vibrant multicultural area — is the setting for this truly internationalist trio. Pianist Lucian Ban is from Seaca, a Transylvanian village in Romania, viola virtuoso Mat Maneri is the grandson of Sicilian immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn and saxophonist Evan Parker is from Bristol.
The opening harmonies of Parker’s weeping, flickering and sharply crystallised notes on his soprano saxophone jell with Maneri’s bowed, lamenting viola before Ban enters with his softly struck keys of empathy.
It’s as if their life experiences and framing in music have been commonly shared in three very distinct cultural traditions — Ban’s boyhood of musical weddings, birthdays, and festivals, Maneri’s youth with his saxophonist father Joe’s roots and scholarship and Parker’s early years as a pioneer of free, spontaneous improvisation.
Suddenly, the notes begin to peal from Parker’s horn, like urgent thrush-song and outside in the square — the eating, drinking, crashing down of dominoes, conversation and skateboarding all become the subliminal sonic earth of the music upstairs in the Vortex, which seems to mesh with these faintly-heard sounds of London life.
Maneri’s viola, pitched lower than Parker’s soprano, reaches out to them across the Atlantic.
Maneri switches from deftly sawn bow to plucking fingers as he coaxes luminescent sounds which Ban picks up, rising up and down from his stool with his notes of deep and sharing spirit.
As for Parker, his saxophone is at the very heart of this cosmic palaver. He is its warm and brilliant host, his notes expressing a global welcome.