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Steve Lacy: Free for a Minute (1966-72) [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Four sessions on a 2 CD set, all featuring Steve Lacy and Kent Carter: (1) DISPOSABILITY, the 1965 trio record with Aldo Romano of jazz standards, originals and free improv; (2) SORTIE, the 1966 free improv quartet + Enrico Rava album; (3) previously unissued 1967 'Free Fall' Film Cues in a quintet with Rava, Karl Berger, & Paul Motian; (4) two never issued '72 quintet pieces with Steve Potts, Irene Aebi on cello and Noel Mcghie. ... Click to View


Paul Rutherford : In Backward Times (1979-2007) (Emanem)

Four very different previously unissued concert settings featuring trombonist Paul Rutherford: 2 festival solos - one from 1979 with electronics and one from 2004 without; a 1988 duo with Paul Rogers a few months before their ROGUES CD; and a 2007 trio with Veryan Weston and Marcio Mattos, which turned out to be Rutherford's last public appearance. ... Click to View


Barry Guy: Frogs [VINYL 7-inch PICTURE DISC] (Trost Records)

A 7" limited vinyl picture disc made to celebrate legendary European Free Jazz bassist Barry Guy's 70th birthday, with Guy providing "acoustic sounds" along with his collaborating frogs, Wasserfrosch (Rana Esculenta) and Laubfrosch (Hyla Arborea), size A presenting Frogs & Barry Guy, and side 2, Barry Guy & Frogs; quirkly and wonderful free improv. ... Click to View


Christian Wolff : Berlin Exercises [VINYL] (God Records)

A series of shorter works composed by Christian Wolff written to explore the process of practicing and working within specified limits, exercises for both the composer and the performers, recorded live in Berlin in 2000 by an ensemble directed by Peter Ablinger and including Wolff on piano & melodica, Robin Hayward on tuba, Anette Krebs on guitar, &c. ... Click to View


Phill Niblock: Rhymes With Water [VINYL] (God Records)

A beautiful set of minimalist compositional drone from New York composer Phill Niblock, commissioned by the performers Natalia Pschenitschnikowa on bass flute and Erik Drescher on glissando flute, recorded at PIETHOPRAXIS, in Cologne, Germany by Marcus Schmickler, and in Berlin, Germany, by Thomas Ankersmit. ... Click to View


Simon Rummel Ensemble: IM MEER (Umlaut Records)

German composer and improviser Simon Rummel presents the 2nd release from his 11-piece Simon Rummel Ensemble, blending his interest in acoustic phenomena and improvisational harmonics in an extended work that shift from beautiful tonal work to disruptive cacophony and back to melodic music blending jazz and 20th century approaches; a great achievement. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Bryan Eubanks: My Undocumented Alien Clarinet [VINYL] (Penultimate Press)

Recorded and presented as part of Pauline Oliveros Foundation's New Vanguard Series in Kingston, NY in 2006, the unusual duo of Joe McPhee on b-flat and e-flat alto clarinets and synthesizer and Bryan Eubanks on open circuit electronics explores unusual dynamics and psychoacoustic intersections of both acoustic and electronic instruments. ... Click to View


Blaise Siwula / Jorge Nuno: Waterscapes (Creative Sources)

Waterscapes is the performing duo of New York saxophonist Blaise Siwula and guitarist Jorge Nuno, interwining distinct approaches to acoustic and electric improvisation, creating rich sound environments and rapid interaction that draws the listener in and then sweeps them off their feet with passionate, complex and informed dialog. ... Click to View


Carlo Mascolo: My Tubes (Creative Sources)

A unique take on this large brass instrument from Italian trombonis and Free Flow Festival director Carlo Mascolo, using preparations, focusing on components of the instrument, and using extreme techniques to create a startlingly diverse set of sounds, vocalisations, microtonal output and simply bizarre utterances as Mascolo attempts bring new language to horn. ... Click to View


Alfredo Monteiro Costa / Miguel A. Garcia: Aq'Ab'Al (Mikroton Recordings)

Audio experimenters Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Miguel A. Garcia join forces in an album titled after "Aq'ab'al", the Mayan Astrology Sign about polar opposites-- dawn and dusk, hot and cold, black and white--which represents renewal and change, through a series of opposing audio events, forceful sounds of texture, feedback, and intervention. ... Click to View


John Butcher / John Edwards / Mark Sanders: Last Dream Of The Morning (Relative Pitch)

A studio album between three UK master improvisers -- John Butcher on sax, John Edwards on double bass, and Mark Sanders on drums -- the trio pushing the envelope in technique and dialog in nearly telepathic playing that transports the listener into their environment, as the music builds and releases in effortless ways that are stunning and exulant; highly recommended. ... Click to View


Fred Van Hove / Roger Turner: The Corner (Relative Pitch)

Pioneering improvising pianist Fred Van Hove at UK's Cafe OTO for the first time, captured in a duo with UK drummer/percussionist Roger Turner, their first recording together, for a night of exceptional improvised interplay, sophisticated and complex playing that is constantly buoyant and charming, an enthralling conversation between two veteran players. ... Click to View


Magda Mayas / Jim Denley: Tempe Jetz (Relative Pitch)

A pairing of two innovative players, Berlin-based pianist Magda Mayas and Australian sound and wind artist Jim Denley, Mayas playing inside and out of the piano and Denley on alto sax and bass flute, both providing field recordings adding unexpected elements in a set of extremely balanced recordings that entrance the listener with unlikely and captivating settings. ... Click to View


John Butcher: Resonant Spaces [VINYL] (Blume)

Extreme acoustic space recordings from saxophonist John Butcher, part of Arika's Resonant Spaces event, with performances from resonant and remote corners of Scotland. ... Click to View


Lean Left: I Forgot To Breathe (Trost Records)

The 7th album from the quartet of Netherlands guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels (The Ex) with Chicago free improvising multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and Netherlands drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in an album balancing amazing energy with profound introspective moments in thrilling edge-of-your-seat improvisation - excellent! ... Click to View


Lean Left: I Forgot To Breathe [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The 7th album from the quartet of Netherlands guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels (The Ex) with Chicago free improvising multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and Netherlands drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in an album balancing amazing energy with profound introspective moments in thrilling edge-of-your-seat improvisation - excellent! ... Click to View


Kontakte Trio (Trevor Taylor / Ian Brighton / Steve Beresford): Kontakte Trio (FMR)

An important and well-matched trio of electroacoustic improvisers, and a welcome addition to guitarist Ian Brighton's return to active music life, with Steve Beresford on piano, prepared piano and electronics, and Trevor Taylor (Circuit) on percussion and electronics, six unhurried improvisations of intricate interplay and interchange themed on physics. ... Click to View


Viv Corringham / Lawrence Casserley: Anemoi (FMR)

Lawrence Casserley is a pioneer of real time electroacoustic music, since the 60s working with other artists and developing his Signal Processing Instrument, using physical gestures to process and morph sounds; here he works with British vocalist and Deep Listening teacher Viv Corringham in an other-worldly collaboration of voice and electonics. ... Click to View


Kamins / Smith / Fielder / Hertenstein: After Effects (FMR)

A great example of traditional free improvisation spanning generations from the quartet of Danny Kamins on baritone saxophone, Damon Smith on double bass, and two drummer/percussionists--Alvin Fielder and Joe Hertenstein--for 10 tracks of swinging free music recorded in the studio in Texas, 2016, jazz with a lyrical intention and powerful rhythmic underpinnings. ... Click to View


Pat Thomas: The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari [VINYL] (Otoroku)

Inspired by the automatic water clock invented by Iraq inventor, engineer, and father of robotics, Badi' al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari built in the 12th century, pianist Pat Thomas recorded these four exceptional improvisations of powerful solo piano with an unusual and inventive twist live at London's Cafe Oto in 2015. ... Click to View


Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza: Azioni/Reazioni 1967-1969 [4CD + DVD BOX] (Die Schachtel)

Box set CD reissue of the 2007 release of this seminal Italian free improvising group's complete recordings from 1967-69, in a deluxe box with 4 CDs, a DVD containing the original film "Nuova Consonanza" shot by Theo Gallher of their 1967 concert, and a 64 page LP-size book in English and Italian with essays, group commentary, collected reviews, &c. ... Click to View


Cilantro (Angelica Castello / Billy Roisz): Borderland (Mikroton Recordings)

Cilantro is the duo of multi-instrumentalists Angelica Castello on paetzold, ukulele, organ, tapes, & electronics, and Billy Roisz on electric bass, organ, tv, piezzo, computer & electronics, scrutinizing the activity in bordering areas between noise and silence, tenderness and rudeness, beat and drone, inner consciousness and outer awareness, control and freedom. ... Click to View


Burkhard Beins / Lucio Capece / Martin Kuchen / Paul Vogel: Fracture Mechanics (Mikroton Recordings)

"Fracture Mechanics" is the scientific study of cracks in any material, an apt title from these European experimental innovators--Burkhard Beins, Lucio Capece, Martin Kuchen, and Paul Vogel--pulling back the curtain on process and creating an impressive album crossing acoustic and electronic improv, organized sound, and inexplicable interaction; recommended. ... Click to View


The Holy Quintet (Change / Drouin / Lash / Lazardiou / Ryan): Borough (Mikroton Recordings)

The meeting of Johnny Chang (viola), Jamie Drouin (suitcase modular synth), Dominic Lash (double bass), Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga(zither, and David Ryan (bass clarinet) recording at Bourough welsh Congregational Chapel, in London in 2013, recorded by Another Timbre label leader Simon Reynell, for a unique merging of disparate approaches to ea-improv. ... Click to View


Kurt Liedwart / Andrey Popovskiy / Martin Taxt: Hjem (Mikroton Recordings)

A live concert at Dom Cultural Center in Moscow, Russia in 2015 from Norwegian tuba player Martin Taxt, Saint Petersburg violinist and object player Andrey Popovskiy, and ppool performer Kurt Liedwart focusing on sinewaves and noise, in an extended lowercase improvisation exploring harmonic and microtonal sounds. ... Click to View


Ayumi Tanaka / Johan Lindvall / Christian Wallumrod: 3 Pianos (Nakama Records)

This trio joins 3 disparate approaches to composition and improvisation--Japanese improviser Ayumi Tanaka, Oslo composer Johan Lindvall, and ECM artist Christian Wallumrod-developing the engaging material on this album by focusing on elements like tuning, register, intervals and dynamics, for an absorbing album of compatible and concentrative playing. ... Click to View


Ayumi Tanaka / Johan Lindvall / Christian Wallumrod: 3 Pianos [VINYL LP] (Nakama Records)

This trio joins 3 disparate approaches to composition and improvisation--Japanese improviser Ayumi Tanaka, Oslo composer Johan Lindvall, and ECM artist Christian Wallumrod-developing the engaging material on this album by focusing on elements like tuning, register, intervals and dynamics, for an absorbing album of compatible and concentrative playing. ... Click to View


Christian Svendsen Meaas : Avin (Nakama Records)

Known more for his double bass work, Christian Meaas Svendsen releases a stunningly beautiful album of unusually orchestrated pop songs with an 8-piece band of Nordic improvisers and performers, a dramatic album of tension and release which, despite lyrics in Norwegian, draws all listeners in through inventive and innovative musical structures. ... Click to View


Christian Svendsen Meaas : Avin [VINYL LP] (Nakama Records)

Known more for his double bass work, Christian Meaas Svendsen releases a stunningly beautiful album of unusually orchestrated pop songs with an 8-piece band of Nordic improvisers and performers, a dramatic album of tension and release which, despite lyrics in Norwegian, draws all listeners in through inventive and innovative musical structures. ... Click to View


Tipple (Frode Gjerstad / Kevin Norton / David Watson): Live at Elastic Arts (FMR)

Tipple, the trio of Frode Gjerstad on alto sax and clarinet, Kevin Norton on percussion, and David Watson on electric guitar, are captured live for an energetic and masterly concert at Elastic Arts, in Chicago, Illinois in 2015, four "Elastic" improvisations of intense interaction, from collective conversation to stunning solo statements; jaw dropping. ... Click to View


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  Free Music Missionary or Professional Juggler  

Evan Parker Discusses Four Decades in Free Improvisation


By Marc Chenard
Photo by Martin Morissette 2003-06-19

Call it 'free jazz', 'free music', or 'European Improvised Music' if you want, but one thing is for sure: it is as vibrant nowadays, if not more than when it was first thrust upon the transatlantic music scene a little less than forty years ago. As enduring as its history has been over there, it is now spanning the Great Divide and reaching not only a steadily growing audience but an increasingly younger one at that. Of its most heralded practioners, British tenor and soprano saxophonist Evan Parker is clearly one of its leading figures and, at 59, his commitment to this art form has never flagged. Two summers ago, during the debut edition of a festival of improvised music held in Montreal, Evan Parker visited the city for the first time in 15 years. Between two evening performances, one solo, the other with a pair of live electronics players, he spoke at length of the music he has been unerringly devoted to for the last 35 years, sharing some insights on its checkered history while expatiating, so to speak, on a few of the fineries of his own artistic practices and beliefs. Evan Parker

Marc Chenard: In 1997, veteran Belgian pianist Fred van Hove made an interesting point when I asked him to contrast the state of improvised music now from the early days of the 1960s: for him it used to be like jumping off a cliff, but now it's more like finding your way through a jungle. Do you agree with that statement? Since you too are a 'first generation' free improviser, you have seen this music change considerably over time.

Evan Parker: To me jumping off a cliff speaks of an uncertain voyage with a messy and most likely painful end to it. But wandering through the jungle doesn't really speak of any direction, so you may not know where you're going and be lost. I'm not quite sure I follow that. This music certainly has a history to it and we play as much in reference to it as our to own current activities. Now this calls into question the issue of stylistic or aesthetic coherence, and how we can keep something fresh while keeping it true to a certain way of thinking, or line of development. Yes, I've been called a 'first generation' free improvisor, but it's really hard to say where or when this music really started, and while it may be true in a certain context, it's not really the case when you look at the bigger picture.

M.C.: Speaking of things historical, London in the late '60s was really a fulcrum of sorts, and one place in particular played an important role in the emergence of the British free music scene, that being the Little Theater. How did you get involved?

E.P.: The late drummer John Stevens just invited me to play there, and it was really his fiefdom. He had the ear of the owner (Jean Pritchard was her name), and she'd been operating an after-hours hangout for actors who, by the way, weren't that crazy about the music. So it must have been a struggle for John to keep her straight, so to speak, but he had the social skills to do that.

M.C.: At that same period, you would also get to know other European free improvising musicians from the continent, like bassist Peter Kowald [who died last year, after this interview took place].

E.P.: Peter came to London in fact, but we never played at the Little Theater. He joined me and John at a time when our group (i.e. the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, or SME for short) was reduced to just a duo. We were working at a small folk club called 'Les Cousins', which interestingly enough was operated by the blues musician Alexis Korner. At that time, he had this duo with a guy called Victor Brocks, and they had this sort of idealistic notion of playing a very free kind of blues while were doing a very free kind of jazz. So we'd each do a set thentry to play together at the end of the week... but that didn't go on for too long. So we played there with Peter over the Summer of '67. Late that year, Peter invited me to come to this music workshop that the radio producer Joachim-Ernst Behrendt was putting together for the South German radio in Baden Baden. But I only got in because John Tchicai decided to cancel at the last minute. It's on that occasion I first met Peter Brötzmann and Gunther Hampel, as well as Don Cherry, Marion Brown and Jean ne Lee.

M.C.: So I gather this session was what lead up to the now 'seminal' recording "Machine Gun"?

E.P.: Right. And Brötzmann also introduced me to Alex von Schlippenbach (around 1970), but that was after getting to know Willem Breuker, Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg. Kowald, on the other hand, was responsible for bringing me together with Irene Schweizer and Pierre Favre, and we worked for a couple of years together, and did that one recording for Wergo in '69. Sometimes they played just as a trio, or I'd join them when they could afford bringing me over. I was now getting better acquainted with the German scene, and thanks to an invitation from Jost Gebers (the now soon to retire producer of FMP Records in Berlin), a larger version of SME performed there, which had Dave Holland, Derek Bailey, Trevor Watts, John and myself.

M.C.: So it was John who was responsible for bringing you and Derek together.

E.P.: In effect, because he was playing occasionally at the Little Theater club with that trio called 'Joseph Holbrooke', the one with Gavin Bryars and Tony Oxley. But Gavin left to study in America, so it was from there that we started playing together. It was also around that time that we did that record for ECM (" Music Improvisation Company"). Come to think of it, it's really a complicated period to re-construct, because there were so many contacts happening at the same time.

M.C.: Among those contacts, there were the Blue Notes, that legendary South African band who settled in London for a while. They, too, had quite an effect.

E.P.: Sure, their approach was so different, but it was not like we were trying to learn their music only; they were just as interested by our free playing as we were by theirs. I remember doing a gig with the pianist Chris McGregor and the drummer Louis Moholo, just playing completely free, and that was probably around or before 1970. The trumpeter Mongezi Feza also did the same, and Dudu Pukwana, the sax player, would go to Holland to play with Misha and Han. To this day, Louis is still the happiest when he plays free.

M.C.: I can imagine there were a lot of sessions going on during the day, but were there many more venues to bring this to the public?

E.P.: Well, the Little Theater was pretty much the place, but there was also a short period, of about a year and a half or two, when Ronnie Scott's club kept its original Gerrard Street locale while starting up its new one right across on Frith Street. It was probably more jazzy on the average, like Mike Westbrook's bands, Chris McGregor, John Surman and Mike Osborne, with John Stevens and myself usually slotted on a midweek evening. Mike also had a place of his own called 'Peanuts' and that was further East, near Liverpool Street. His own people mostly played there, but he would farm out gigs to others as well. So you could say it was pretty healthy back then, but I think we need to have a few more Peanuts-type places happening now. I'm always encouraging bass players and drummers to do this, because they're the natural ones for this type of thing.

M.C.: In contrast to that period, how does London compare nowadays? It is happening?

E.P.: Absolutely! There are hundred of musicians now and it's impossible to keep up. There's a whole generation of people in their20's and younger now ready and eager to pursue this music. Take for example, the bassist John Edwards (who plays with Jah Wobble), he's still quite young and very much involved in this scene.

M.C.: Interestingly enough, this renewed interest in improvised music is not only a local phenomenon, but a more international one as well. Take, for instance, the United States: It's blossoming there as well, both in terms of musicians and audience.

E.P.: There's a surge, that's for sure... and I hope it carries on like this! Let's see, here we are in June, and I've been over four times already, a record for me. But the interesting thing is that I don't even initiate these contacts. They come from people inviting me. And they come not only from New York or other major cities, but from more remote places, too.

M.C.: On the first night of your stay here, you played a solo saxophone concert, and this has been very central to your art over the last 25 years. But until only recently, you would only play soprano in solo contexts, how come?

E.P.: I've always thought of myself as being a soprano player who doubles on tenor rather than the other way around. Actually, when I switched from alto to tenor way back when, there was a time I was only playing soprano. Nowadays, in certain contexts, like with drums, I only play tenor, but it's taken time for that to happen. And after playing just soprano in solo contexts, that too is changing.

M.C.: It worked out to about half and half in the performance. What also struck me is the fact that your tenor language is moving closer than ever to your soprano language, whereas in the past it seemed you made a conscious effort to keep both of these as separate as possible. What interests me here is to find out how you are working on translating the concepts of the soprano to the tenor.

E.P.: That's quite new for me, indeed, and it does seem they're overlapping more than ever. With the techniques I've developed to control certain possibilities on one horn, it's as if I can reverse the roles of the two hands when I'm trying to translate these over to what I could call the "physics of the tenor." You see, it all has to do with how broken air columns work. Now this may well be a broad generalization, but I could say that the soprano is a closed column broken in the left hand while the tenor tends to be more of a left hand position modified by the right hand. Now this might sound impenetrable to anyone who doesn't play the saxophone, or maybe even for those who do, but it means something to me. You could say that it has to do with the ways in which the keys fall under your hand, the weight distribution and the fingerings as well, because a lot of this stuff depends on getting up to a certain speed.

M.C.: I imagine you have to practice a lot to keep this up.

E.P.: These days, I'm not practicing as much as I should, because I'm too busy, traveling and what not. But one can do a lot of conceptual practicing as well, something like mental arithmetic where you're thinking of intervallic patterns. For instance: to go through sequences of alternating minor thirds and fourths, or semi-tones and flat fifths, from bottom to top and knowing where to go down when you run out of instrument. The eight or ten hour practice day is long in the past for me, but there were times when I was only doing that because work was so scarce.

M.C.: After 25 years of solo concerts and having built such a language, do you have a feeling of living too much by it? Are there times where you'd like to break away from it?

E.P.: That calls to mind the title of a book by Doris Lessing and that is Prisons We Choose to Live Inside. I guess it's a prison I've chosen to live in. Of course, you can choose to do something different, but that's rather easy to juststand up and do something nobody expects. I find it more interesting to do what people expect and then still surprise them, or myself for that matter. For the moment, I am finding things and recombining them in interesting ways. I like that feeling of capturing people's ears and taking them on a journey. I can be a guide only if I go down some paths I already know myself. After all, it's not much good having a guide who doesn't know his way through the jungle...



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