Various Artists

Freedom of the City 2001: Large Groups

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This two-CD set is the second of a two-volume series on the label Emanem to document the first Freedom of the City festival held in London in May 2001. But under this disguise hides a live album by the London Improvisers Orchestra. The mammoth ensemble, featuring its biggest number of members yet (39), is featured on all of disc two and 22 minutes of disc one. The album opens with a reenactment of a studio project Evan Parker put together in 1998: an improvising string ensemble (it yielded the three-CD set Strings With Evan Parker, released in 2001). Here, 13 musicians are included: string players like Phil Durrant, Marcio Mattos, and John Edwards, plus pianist Chris Burn, guitarists John Russell and Peter Cusack, spring whiz Hugh Davies, and even sampler artist Kaffe Matthews. The group performs "Trick on the Speed of Making It" (32 minutes) without Parker, who joins in on soprano sax for "Daylight Receptacle" (19 minutes). Everything else belongs to the LIO, a group that gains quality with age. The lineup is relatively similar to the one present on The Hearing Continues, plus a few players. London improvisers from all generations come together to perform playful structured improvisations and "conductions." Especially worthy of note is Simon H. Fell's "Morton Mobile," very different from its first reading on Proceedings, extremely gentle without getting fragile. Steve Beresford's "Concerto for Sylvia Hallett" provides the other highlight. The orchestra was beautifully recorded. Although it becomes almost impossible to single out an individual voice, each section (including an impressive brass lineup) is well defined. Recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick