Paul Lytton


Percussionist Paul Lytton is both an inventive, textural drummer in the tradition of European free jazz, and a pioneer in electronic sound processing and the use of homemade instruments of his own invention. Lytton made his first noteworthy appearances on the British creative music scene in the late '60s, and his influence -- particularly in live electronics -- can still be observed in the experimentation of a new generation of improvisers in the 21st century. - Dave Lynch, AllMusic

At the Unity Theatre

Evan Parker & Paul Lytton

2003

"Three years after Evan Parker and Paul Lytton's recording debut as a duo (Collective Calls, originally released by Incus), At the Unity Theatre captures them in a live setting. The studio album saw them foray into microscopic sounds. This time around the music is overall more feverish and loud, but it loses nothing in subtlety and intelligence. "In the Midst of Laughter and Glee," at 18 minutes long, stands as one of their best improvisations from that period. We are greeted by a low growl, like a long string being scratched; it may be the enigmatic lyttonophone but, in any case, it immediately tells you how unconventional this sax/drums duet was. Closer to the end, Parker squeezes out of his soprano sax the whiny sounds of an oboe or shenai, unfolding a sinuous mourning song that is simply stunning. He also plays a raspier tenor and uses a bullroarer and cassettes of prior performances -- but these are discernible only on very close listen. Lytton spends little time playing thedrum kit in a conventional way. Instead he focuses on objects and scrap metal, but still makes quite a racket. The CD reissue of this album (on Parker's Psi imprint) adds over 22 minutes of previously unissued material in the form of two extra improvisations from the same concert. At 18 minutes,"Through Consensus" was too long to make it on the original LP without sacrificing "In the Midst of Laughter and Glee," which is simply better. Despite some captivating activity, the two musicians drift apart, Parker trying to force the piece into a more powerful direction while Lytton instead moves deeper within his pile of scrap metal. It makes a nice bonus though." -Francois Couture, All Music "

Pisa 1980

Improvisors Symposium

2004

""This 1981 recording collects tapes from the Evan Parker-directed Improvisors' (sic) Symposium at the international jazz festival held in Pisa, Italy, in 1980. Side one is made up of duets. There are two wind duets and one for strings. The first wind duet is a series of elongated tones that becomes circular motions and striated microtonal meditations between Evan Parker on soprano saxophone and George Lewis on trombone. The first is a slow, almost imperceptibly evolving piece of exchanged lines and intersected tonal integration. The second is a circular, oddly angled work in which the two performers create arpeggiated spaces of microphonic textures and then exchange them no less than three times in nine minutes, adding to the expansion of the circle. The string duet between bassist Maarten Altena and guitarist Derek Bailey is a remarkably focused quest for fire in which strings are regarded purely and practically as surfaces first and elements for musical improvisation second. Two quintet pieces make up the second side, and the piece performed by an ensemble with two bassists (Altena and Barry Guy) and three trombonists (Lewis, Paul Rutherford, and Giancarlo Schiaffini) works best. Deeper tonal studies that involve almost ritualistic triangulation and counterpoint are very rare in improvisers' groups these days. The counterpoint shifts here are arbitrary (they can consist of two basses, two trombones, a bass and a trombone, etc.), with the microtonal invention that contains a triad being equally random and ever-changing. For nearly 12 minutes, the piece is a breathtaking end to a very satisfying collection." -Thom Jurek, All Music"