Boustrophedon (play /ˌbstrɵˈfdən/ or /ˌbstrˈfdən/; from Greek βουστροφηδόν “ox-turning”—that is, turning like oxen in ploughing), is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions.[1] Every other line of writing is flipped or reversed, with reversed letters.

from Wikipedia

Despite my large appetite for noise, especially jazz noise, I generally don’t *get* the noted British musician Evan Parker.

Parker is very highly regarded by many, including the estimable Morton and Cook, but what I have heard of his music strikes me as cold, strident, ‘modern’ in an unapproachable way.

I want to make an exception for his 2008 album ‘Boustrophedon.’ It’s a recording from 2004 and – says Amazon’s description – “This is the most structured music Parker has ever released.” Well.

I don’t hear Gil Evans, as one reviewer seems to, but somehow this is just far enough back to something I recognize as jazz to put it in the same territory as Braxton and Taylor, which is to say, it’s bracing.

What does it sound like? For a fairly large band, 14 pieces, you don’t get a lot of massed ensemble writing, so when it appears it’s a shock. What you do get is a graceful undercurrent of strings, with a few horns circling around them. The melodies are astringent and the improv strictly avant. I hear Bartok and Debussy and Benny Goodman on an out day, and why I like it as much as I do is something of a mystery to me.


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