From Evan Parker’s Swing to Ancient Bronze Bells

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Evan Parker swing this hard. I always assumed he could, but he proves it in this recent trio date, on tenor sax:

That session took place in London on Feb. 7, at a venue called IKLEKTIC, and got posted to YouTube less than 48 hours later. Hat tip to @DalstonSound on Twitter.

This post is really about the drummer, though. I hadn’t encountered Toshi Tsuchitori before, and I liked his playing on that short chip — including the way he egged on Parker and bassist John Edwards as that “swinging free jazz” mode began to emerge. Tsuchitori looks old enough to have had quite an eventful career, I thought to myself.

So, I started researching him. And yes, Tsuchitori has had quite a career.

In 1975, he recorded Origination, a duo album with saxophonist Mototeru Takagi. You can hear them blaze through 12 minutes of music on this clip, a track titled “Little Boy.”

Ototatchinuru18, the YouTube user who posted that IKLEKTIC clip, created two YouTube channels of Tscuchitori videos, including many sessions in quiet contexts closer to traditional Japanese music. But there’s also this ferocious duet with Milford Graves.

In fact, Tsuchitori has played with many of the jazz/improv greats. Here’s a particularly delicious spot, from 1978: a subdued duet with Derek Bailey, where Tsuchitori works with tight clacking and snaps, matching Bailey’s guitar language. Bailey at one point responds with a couple of long background tones — it’s a terrific moment.

It turns out Tsuchitori, whose career now includes music for plays and movies, has a fascination not just for traditional music but for ancient music. That is, music for instruments found at archaeological sites — specifically, broken bronze bells.

Tsuchitori built replicas of the bells, or pots, and recorded an album of music for them, a project of “speculatory sound,” as writer Cameron Allan McKean puts it.

Researching Toshi Tsuchitori was a fascinating little exercise. I’m glad to have noticed him, and I’m grateful to everyone mentioned in this post for pointing the way to him — including Evan Parker, for his work at the service of two solid musical partners that Sunday evening.