Travis Laplante / Peter Evans Secret Meeting

[NNA Tapes; 2016]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: conversation, debate, duo improv, free-jazz
Others: Food Court, Battle Trance, Little Women, Best of Enemies

I dreamt that Travis Laplante’s saxophone and Peter Evans’s trumpet had a Secret Meeting. I imagined they met late one night in a quiet room, a soundproof nowhere, just the two of them. There, they held long and contentious conversations. They barked in hoarse tones, whined for long bouts, belabored their points, and got vicious at the slightest provocation. In scarce moments of harmony or agreement, there was still an undercurrent of seething disdain, like two political rivals at a charity event. But I wasn’t interested in seeing them fake a resolution and smile for pictures. I wanted an explanation for this meeting. What did they talk about?

I can’t suppose I know, because I don’t speak the language. But they are excellent speakers, I’m sure of that. These were very intense conversations — they spoke with immense sincerity, enunciated clearly, and repeated their points so you could hear them. I listened closely, to every little nuance, waiting to pick up on something that made sense. I imagined they were discussing great events, insurmountable issues, trying to discern deep truths. What happens “After The End”? Is it true that “Nothing is what it seems”? I was only speculating. It appeared that the sound they made and the idea it conveyed were one and the same. A two-horn drone rang out, loud and brassy, brash enough to rattle the ground.

The two voices are so similar and shared a lot of common ground, but the things they diverged on at this Secret Meeting stuck out, the two irreconcilable opinions grinding aloud and crackling in the air. Sometimes one or the other would try a more conventional ploy, an old familiar jazz tune, politicizing their content by putting it in historical context; as if to strengthen its argument, Laplante’s saxophone insisted upon the apparent truths in hard bop. Evans’s trumpet then turned to the moral examples set by cool jazz. One would take the lead and the other would be right there following it, guessing its next moves. One would recall an especially good remark Colin Stetson once made, but the other would be right there with a decimating Weasel Walter response, a brash, high-register riposte. One horn would babble on and dominate the conversation. The other would get flustered, stop short, then honk and toot until it had a turn to speak.

As I listened to them talk, I noticed the topic changed constantly. Sometimes it did so organically: as one idea seemed to resolve itself, both horns would leap in tandem to the most obvious problem with the new issue at hand and then, from there, to its clearest solution, the worst case scenario it begged, the pragmatic, realistic portrayal it deserved. Sometimes it was forced: one would attempt to derail the other or would simply insist on changing the subject and refuse to relent. Sometimes they’d get locked in a loop of well-conveyed arguments and artful counters. Sometimes they’d devolve into a dumb and brute shouting match. I listened along, transfixed. Between all their gibberish and combat, I sensed something undeniable. What once appeared to me as nonsense slowly began to come into focus, an ideology unraveling and explaining itself in my ears. But when the dream ended, my dream-logic unraveled, and I quickly forgot what it was.

Links: NNA Tapes

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