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Frode Gjerstad Trio + Steve Swell: Bop Stop (Clean Feed)

The indefatigable Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad invites trombonist Steve Swell, with whom he collaborated in 2011 on the live album "At Constellation", to join his trio with Jon Rune Strom on double bass and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, at Cleveland's Bop stop during their 2017 tour, recording this impressive concert of exemplary collective free jazz. ... Click to View

Matt Piet & His Disorganization (w / Berman / Mazzarella / Daisy): Rummage Out (Clean Feed)

A young and fresh voice in the creative Chicago improv scene, pianist and composer Matt Piet who leads his own trio and the band Four Letter Words, and one third of Rempis/Piet/Daisy, introduces a new quartet with saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, cornet player Josh Berman, and drummer Tim Daisy, a superb example of the energetic and active Chicago scene. ... Click to View

Benoit Delbecq 4 (w / Turner / Hebert / Cleaver): Spots On Stripes (Clean Feed)

French pianist Benoit Delbecq brings together frequent collaborators from New York--Mark Turner on tenor saxophone and drummer Gerald Cleaver--and from Paris--Delbecq himself and double bassist John Hebert--for an album of refined and inventive contemporary jazz, the work of masterful players with years of experience and collaborations dating back to 2003. ... Click to View

Samo Salamon / Tony Malaby / Roberto Dani: Traveling Moving Breathing (Clean Feed)

A peer of Tim Berne, David Binney, Sabir Mateen, Mark Helias, &c., Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon presents an album of original compositions and one collective improvisation from his ever-changing Bassless Trio, here with drummer Roberto Dani and saxophonist Tony Malaby on tenor and soprano, in an introspective album of profound technique and lyrical playing. ... Click to View

Sara Serpa (w / Laubrock / Fiedlander): Close Up (Clean Feed)

Lisbon, Portugal native, singer and composer Sara Serpa in a trio with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and cellist Erik Friedlander, recording live at Pete's House, in Brooklyn, for an album of unusual and creative vocals inspired by experimentation and changing identities, bringing a unique approach to improvised vocals in the company of accomplished players. ... Click to View

Turbamulta (Raon / Sao / Ferreira / Martins / Aroso): Turbamulta (Clean Feed)

With orchestration of harp, daxophone, idiophones, piano, cello, guitar, percussion, sampling & electronics, the Portuguese quintet Turbamulta (roughly translates to "rowdy mob", though clearly a very sophisticated mob) was born from the band Powertrio of Eduardo Raon, Joana Sa and Luis Martins, expanded to blend compositional, EA and improv approaches into something unique and beautiful. ... Click to View

Jonas Cambien Trio (w / Roligheten / Wildhagen): We Must Mustn't We (Clean Feed)

Leveraging influences in improvisation and contemporary compositional music, Belgian/Oslo pianist Jonas Cambien, a member of Simiskina and Platform, extends his own trio of saxophonist Andre Rolighete and drummer Andreas Wildhagen with trumpeter Torstein Lavik Larsen on 2 tracks, as they balance jazz, avant, free improv and other hybrid forms in a compellingly creative album. ... Click to View

Mattias Risberg : Stamps (Clean Feed)

Swedish pianist Mattias Risberg demonstrates the passion he dedicates to vintage instruments like mellotron, Hammond organ, analog synthesizers, clavichord and even pipe organs in a solo album of piano, with some light preparations, and the pedals of a Moog Taurus, an inventive album of improvisations inspired by the vivid images of postage stamps. ... Click to View

Maria da Rocha: Beetroot & Other Stories (Shhpuma)

Using violin, viola, synth and effect pedals, Portuguese string player Maria da Rocha creates rich environments of sound and unusual rhythmic structures over which she plays with subtlety and transcendence, in her first solo album, using her unique language as she tells the story of a beet and a witch, inspired by Odyssey Ulysses and Circe from Cortazar. ... Click to View

Tyler Higgins (w / Stevens / Higgins): Blue Mood (Shhpuma)

Hailing from Atlanta, GA, guitarist Tyler Higgins is also a multi-instrumentalist and composer who merges genres of moody, cinematic music based around folk, blues, and jazz and twisted with unusual approaches, aided in his endeavors by drummer Paul Steven and wordless vocalist Ellen Higgins, producing a alluring set of musical narratives. ... Click to View

Roscoe Mitchell / Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra: Ride The Wind (NESSA)

Reedist and composer Roscoe Mitchell in a collaboration with the Montreal - Toronto Art Orchestra, an extraordinary group of improvising musicians comprised of 6 woodwind, piano, vibraphone, tuba, 2 each of trumpet, trombone, viola, string bass and drums plus Mitchell on sopranino saxophone, a profoundly elaborate and absorbing work for a large improvising ensemble. ... Click to View

Barre Phillips / Motoharu Yoshizawa: Oh My, Those Boys! (NoBusiness)

Two bass players--European free improv legend Barre Phillips and Japanese master Motoharu Yoshizawa--met at Cafe Amores in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1994, with Phillips on an amplified acoustic upright and Yoshizawa using an electric vertical 5-string bass of his own design, as the two weave and merge their unique sounds and approaches in a brilliant concert. ... Click to View

Barre Phillips / Motoharu Yoshizawa: Oh My, Those Boys! [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Two bass players--European free improv legend Barre Phillips and Japanese master Motoharu Yoshizawa--met at Cafe Amores in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1994, with Phillips on an amplified acoustic upright and Yoshizawa using an electric vertical 5-string bass of his own design, as the two weave and merge their unique sounds and approaches in a brilliant concert. ... Click to View

Samuel Blaser / Gerry Hemingway: Oostum [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

A fantastic album of free improvisation between two creative and versatile players captured live at Kerkje van Oostum, Groningen, The Netherlands in 2015--percussionist Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Samuel Blaser--both using immense talent and unorthodox approaches to their instruments as they shift from unexpected atmospheres to lyrical richness. ... Click to View

Martin Blume / Tobias Delius / Achim Kaufmann / Dieter Manderscheid: Frames & Terrains [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

A great example of collective free improvisation from the quartet of drummer/percussionist Martin Blue, tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Tobias Delius, pianist Achim Kaufmann, and double bassist Dieter Manderscheid, performing live at the LOFT in Cologne, Germnay in 2016 for two extended intricate, melodic, and commanding performances of expressive and passionate free jazz. ... Click to View

Grant Weston Calvin : Improv Messenger [CD + DOWNLOAD] (577)

Performing on drums, trumpet, guitar, bass, moog bass, and keyboards, Philadelphia born and West Coast drummer/multi-instrumentalist Grant Calvin Weston, a member of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time Band, presents an album or fierce drumming and powerful electronic sources balanced with beautifully paced sonic environments, 16 tracks of diverse and gripping music. ... Click to View

Elio Amberg / Christoph Baumann: Life In A Pond (Creative Sources)

Nine freely improvised introspections as "enlightening spots on different forms of life in a rather muddy environment" from Lucerne, Switzerland based tenor saxophonist Elio Amberg and pianist Christoph Baumann, wonderful miniatures of great style and skill, a diverse exploration of their fictional pond that's quite spellbinding and exciting. ... Click to View

Paul Morgan Khimasia : peoplegrowold (Confront)

Paul Khimasia Morgan is a British guitarist and sound artist who performs on a prepared acoustic guitar body and zither, using objects and electronics to create works of tones, interventions and transitions, here in four rich pieces of well-chosen sound delivered with patient pacing, keeping each piece active while exploring the potential of his instruments and devices. ... Click to View

Giacomo Salis / Paolo Sanna: Humyth (Confront)

Creative uses of percussion from Italian drummers Giacomo Salis and Paolo Sanna, who explore gesture, movement, listening, and the investigation of natural materials and found objects, in five studio tracks that present the results of their research in both rhythmic sections and sections of abstract sound, honed from concerts, studio albums, and a collaboration with Jeph Jerman. ... Click to View

Ame Zek: First Bow (Creative Sources)

Croatian guitarist and electroacoustic musician Ame Zek in an album of electroacoustic improvisation using prepared guitars, acoustic percussions, self made objects, contact microphones, analog modular synthesizer, amplified feedback speakers, magnetic field microphones and digital midi machines; an album of raw, raspy, dark and dissonant sound. ... Click to View

Derek Bailey & Company: Klinker [2 CDs] (Confront)

Derek Bailey's Company in recordings from 2000 at The Klinker in London, with four performers--Bailey on guitar, Simon H. Fell on double bass, Mark Wastell on violincello, and Will Gaines tap dancing--the concert presenting various permutations of these musicians improvising, with narrations from Bailey, Fell, Wastell and Gaines punctuating the recordings. ... Click to View

Phil Maguire / James L. Malone: Working Title (Confront)

Phil Maguire (Verz label) exchanges abstract electronics from a variety of lo-fi devices with glitch and aberrant guitarist James L. Malone, a London improviser who has worked with Eddie Prevost, Phil Durrant, Steve Beresford and Adam Bohman, as the two trade strange sonic disruptions, avoiding pandemonium, instead using noise in pointed discourse. ... Click to View

Phil Minton / Roger Turner: Scraps Of Heard (Confront)

London Free Improv Scene long-standing members, vocalist Phil Minton and drummer/percussionist Roger Turner's first album together, "Ammo", was released in 1984; the two have continued to record together, and this live recording from 2016 in Hanover, Germany shows the two continuing to create distinctly bizarre and wonderfully personal dialog unlike any other. ... Click to View

Golden Oriole: Golden Oriole (BeCoq)

Rough and ready, angular instrumental rock from this Stavanger, Norway-based instrumental duo of Kristoffer Riis on guitar and Thore Warland on drums, two parts of the power-trio Staer, here creating a massive dose of momentum as they push heavy rhythmic riffs with odd tonality and a great sheen of prickly effect layers, in a compelling and muscular album. ... Click to View

Loubatiere / Warnecke: Couleurs Chimeriques (BeCoq)

An album of rich aural environments contrasted with clamorous action and disintegrating sound from the duo of French percussionist Rodolphe Loubatiere performing on snare drum and Berlin-based sound sculptor Pierce Warnecke, their second album as a duo presenting a sophisticated and diverse set of compositions that both entrance and disrupt their listeners. ... Click to View

IKB: Apteryx Mantelli (Creative Sources)

IKB continue their series of albums graced with taxonomic latin names for animals, here with the North Island brown kiwi bird, as the string- and wind-heavy electroacoustic ensemble led by violist Ernesto Rodrigues present this extended improvisation of subtle motion and understated complexity live at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2017. ... Click to View

Finn Loxbo / Erik Blennow Calalv : Snow Country (Creative Sources)

A duo between Swedish guitarist Finn Loxbo (Fire! Orchestra) and bass clarinetist Erik Blennow Calalv, in a low-key, moody and tranquil album of improvisations with titles implying their unhurried approach to their dialog--"Clouds", "Moving, Dancing", and "Ryoanji"-- making a beautiful album of nearly ambient but decidedly determined music. ... Click to View

Kang Hwan Tae : Live at Cafe Amores (NoBusiness)

Korean free saxophonist Kang Tae Hwan recorded this album of sincere and satisfying solo improvisations in 1995 at Cafe Amores, in Hofu, Yamaguchi, Japan, two decades after forming his first free jazz trio of experimental improvisations, demonstrating powerful technical skills and a unique voice on the sax; a long-overdue distillation of his music. ... Click to View

Kang Hwan Tae: Live at Cafe Amores [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Korean free saxophonist Kang Tae Hwan recorded this album of sincere and satisfying solo improvisations in 1995 at Cafe Amores, in Hofu, Yamaguchi, Japan, two decades after forming his first free jazz trio of experimental improvisations, demonstrating powerful technical skills and a unique voice on the sax; a long-overdue distillation of his music. ... Click to View

Jeph Jerman : The Bray Harp (White Centipede Noise)

Aural explorer Jeph Jerman reworks 20 years of source material into this large work of recurring sound, obscuring sources in a rugged mill that turns its sonic grist into a mesmerizing flow of ringing tones and resolute grit, constructed from Jerman's own recordings and tapes from Eric La Casa and Oskar Burmmel, and metal & wood from Ben Brucato. ... Click to View

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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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Recent Selections @ Squidco:

Matt Piet &
His Disorganization
(w /
Berman /
Mazzarella /
Rummage Out
(Clean Feed)

Frode Gjerstad Trio
+ Steve Swell:
Bop Stop
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Kidd Jordan /
Alvin Fielder /
Joel Futterman /
Steve Swell:
Masters Of

Roscoe Mitchell /
Art Orchestra:
Ride The Wind

Paul Morgan Khimasia:

Barre Phillips /
Motoharu Yoshizawa:
Oh My,
Those Boys!

Martin Blume /
Tobias Delius /
Achim Kaufmann /
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[2 CDs]

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Lehn Schmickler
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