A happening. Not that these two heavyweight reedsmen had never shared a stage, but this was going to be a face-off, a clash between two of the hardest-working free improv trios on the circuit. On the left side of the stage: Evan Parker, with drummer Paul Lytton and pianist Alex von Schlippenbach, the latter filling in for bassist Barry Guy. On the right side: Peter Brötzmann and his trusty rhythm section, bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake. These are two highly experienced and gifted trios, with different approaches (complementary ones, some will say). And what happened on-stage, as The Bishop's Move testifies, was a magical 75 minutes of relentless improvising, with a constant shift between open-ended sharing and thrust-and-parry dynamics. The single continuous piece begins with all six musicians on stage. Right out of the gate, the players hit an energy peak, eager to demonstrate that this meeting will not be for the weak. Things do quiet down afterwards, especially as players start walking off and coming back, sifting through a number of subgroupings, including the original two trios and a piano-plus-double-percussion segment. Parker displays his unmatched technique early on, while Brötzmann waits until 50 minutes in before taking the stage by storm and literally stealing the show, first with an inspired clarinet solo over Parker's bass and Drake's frantic djembe, then with a devastating sax segment as Drake moves back to the drumkit. Most supergroups don't live up to expectations, but this one delivers all the promises contained within its name. Compared to the laid-back performances found on the recent Parker/Schlippenbach/Lytton two-CD set released on Psi (America 2003, recorded during the same tour), The Bishop's Move is surprisingly high-energy. And all for the better.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture