This is a 2-CD set of material from two different occasions, involving a meeting between two mainstays of the British free-improv scene (violinist Phil Wachsmann & saxophonist Evan Parker) & the Finnish bassist Teppo Hauta-Aho (who's best known for his work with Edward Vesala). The first CD documents the first time this ensemble worked together, at a live concert in Finland. There are three longish improvisations; the first two of them show the improvisors developing a very fine mutual understanding, while the third is rather frustrating: Parker pushes his partners aside to deliver one of his now rather predictable virtuoso soprano solos, which, sure enough, makes the audience go wild. Showboating didn't die with Jazz at the Philharmonic, evidently. Also frustrating on this CD is the so-so sound quality--it starts out quite good but by the midpoint of the disc the players sound shadowy & indistinct. Wachsmann's use of electronics is either highly subtle or ill-recorded--take your pick.
CD 2, recorded a year later in London's Gateway Studios, has better sound, & on the whole I find the performances more satisfying too. There are three brief solo pieces, one apiece by the three players; these are a bit dispensable--though it's nice to see Parker paying tribute to the late dsh (Dom Sylvester Houedard, the concrete poet). The core of the album is two long trio improvisations, the title-track & "Devil's Punchbowl". The sound balance here is much more equitable than on the live tracks (on CD1, bass & violin are on either side, & the saxophone is to the fore, dead centre; on CD2, saxophone & violin are in either channel & the bass is in the centre); the music is also much more balanced; on here Parker is surprisingly sparing in his use of circular breathing; the interplay is refined &, without having any sharp climaxes or detours, never predictable.
So: how to rate this? Well, I'd normally, just on the merits of the playing, give this about 4 stars, but given the mediocre sound quality on disc 1, the vast quantities of Evan Parker albums out there, & the fact that there's a certain amount of slack over two CDs that between them only contain about 110 minutes of music (surely this could have been an absolutely first-rate single CD if merely a few tracks were dropped?)....then down it goes to 3 stars. That said, Parker enthusiasts will enjoy this, & the best music on here is very strong.