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Albert Ayler Quartet: Copenhagen Live 1964 (Hatology)

In 1964 Albert Ayler's approach to free improvisation had found its voice, in a quartet supported by the now-legendary players Don Cherry on cornet, Gary Peacock on doublebass, and Sunny Murray on drums, heard live in a well-recorded concert at Club Montmarte, in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1964; ferocious and forward thinking, an astonishing concert! ... Click to View


Matthew Shipp: Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich (Hatology)

A fluid and freely improvised solo set from New York pianist Matthew Shipp performing live at the Taktlos Festival in Zurich, Switzerland, 2016, presenting profoundly virtuosic playing skills and remarkable instincts in a continuous 45 minute set that maintains interest and strong bearing as he takes his audience on a commanding and coherent journey. ... Click to View


Marco Von Orelli / Max E. Keller / Sheldon Suter: Blow, Strike & Touch (Hatology)

Swiss trumpeter Marco Von Orelli leads this trio with Max E. Keller on piano and Sheldon Suter on drums, heard live at JazzAmMittwoch, Theater an Gleis, in Winterthur, Switzerland in 2014 for a thoroughly modern jazz outing of creative and extended approaches to the trio's instruments and approach to free jazz. ... Click to View


Harry Miller: Different Times, Different Places Volume Two (Ogun)

Compiling un-released material from late British bassist Harry Miller's recordings from 1977, 78 & 82, in bands with drummer Louis Moholo, guitarist Bernie Holland, pianist Keith Tippett, saxophonists Trevor Watts & Alan Wakeman, trombonist Alan Tomlinson, and trumpeter Dave Holdsworth; effusive joyful lyrical jazz infused with African rhythms. ... Click to View


Jean-Brice Godet Quartet (Godet / Attias / Niggenkemper / Costa): Mujo (Fou Records)

The debut album of French clarinetist Jean-Brice Godet, recording with a New York quartet of Michael Attias on alto sax, Pascal Niggenkemper on doublebass, and Caro Costa on drums for seven tracks of adventerous original compositions, using weaving lines in melodic heads that propel his sidemen to lyrically rich solos and asides. ... Click to View


Sophie Agnel / Daunik Lazro: Marguerite D'Or Pale (Fou Records)

The duo of French pianist Sophie Agnel and sax player Daunik Lazro traces back to their work in the quartet Qwat Neum Sixx; here the two as a duo are caught live at the "DOM" Cultural Centre, in Moscow in 2016 for 6 improvisations, contemplative to explosive dialog, inspired by the Russian novel "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov. ... Click to View


Isaiah Ceccarelli : Bow (Another Timbre)

Montreal-based Composer-percussionist Isaiah Ceccarelli, well known through his Ambiances Magnetiques releases, in 7 compositions, a mix of timbrally-based music in which he himself performs, and through-composed pieces that focus on harmonic progressions, performed as string duos, trios, and quartets. ... Click to View


Linda Smith Catlin : Drifter [2 CDs] (Another Timbre)

Ten pieces dating from 1995 to 2015 from Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith, performed by Quatuor Bozzini and Apartment House, the first in Another Timbre's Canadian Composer series, a 2-CD release focusing on Smith's "equal and simultaneous drive toward abstraction and lyricism" in slowly developing, lush and sophisticated compositions. ... Click to View


Chiyoko Szlavnics : During a Lifetime (Another Timbre)

Three works from Canadian composer Chiyoko Szlavnics, two electroacoustic compositions incorporating sinewaves, one with a saxophone quarte and the other with two accordions, two flutes and two percussionists; and a string trio of long sustained tones and slow glissandi. ... Click to View


Martin Arnold : The Spit Veleta (Another Timbre)

Canadian composer Martin Arnold is based in Toronto, writing melodic works that contain a meandering, psychedelic quality, as heard in these three compositions performed by Philip Thomas on piano and Mira Benjamin on violin, the first two pieces solos from each respectively, and the last a duo with both musicians. ... Click to View


Mat Maneri / Evan Parker / Lucian Ban: Sounding Tears (Clean Feed)

Viola improviser and composer Mat Maneri leads this trio with British UK legend Evan Parker on soprano and tenor saxophone and Romanian ex-patriot and frequent collaborator Lucian Ban on piano, for ten compositions blending tradition, song, and improvisational tactics, recalling 20th century modern classical music in addition to jazz. ... Click to View


Rova / Bruckmann & Kaiser: Saxophone Special (Clean Feed)

The Californian saxophone quartet composed of Bruce Ackley, Steve Adams, Larry Ochs and Jon Raskin is extended with Henry Kaiser on guitar and Kyle Bruckmann on analog synth to perform the music of saxophone legend Steve Lacy in 7 compositions, putting an eclectic spin on the iconic composer and performer's music. ... Click to View


Mario Pavone (Pavone / Ballout / Malaby / Noriega / McEachern / Sarin): Vertical (Clean Feed)

Drawing from some of the finest players on the New York Downtown jazz scene, with Dave Ballou on trumpet, Tony Malaby and Oscar Noriega on reeds, Peter McEachern on trombone and Michael Sarin on drums, double bassist Mario Pavone presents a set of 11 new compositions of lyrical and sophisticated jazz anchored by the leader's powerful compositional structures. ... Click to View


Meridian Trio (Mazzarella / Ulery / Cunningham): Triangulum (Clean Feed)

A lyrical outing from the Chicago working trio of Nick Mazzarella on alto saxophone, Matt Ulery on doublebass, and Jeremy Cunningham on drums, performing live at the Whistler in Chicago, Illinois in 2016, recorded for this debut album of Mazzarella compositions, flexible pieces that balance jazz traditions with avant options for the players. ... Click to View


Chamber 4 (Vicente / Ceccaldi / Ceccaldi / dos Reis): City Of Light (Clean Feed)

A live concert at Les Soirees Tricot Festival in Paris, France in 2016, dedicated to the "City of Light", from the quartet of Luis Vicente on trumpet, Theo Ceccaldi on violin, Valentin Ceccaldi on cello and Marcelo dos Reis on acoustic guitar and prepared guitar, in music that, like the city, exhibits gorgeous simplicity through intricate sophistication. ... Click to View


Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

Saxophonist Martin Kuchen's amazing 9-piece Angles ensemble returns for an album titled for the grief of those who disappear due to war, crime and oppression, music that celebrates the tense balance in the challenge to confront and lead away from darkness and tyranny. ... Click to View


Honest John (Moe / Johannesen / Hoyer / Nylander / Holm): International Breakthrough (Clean Feed)

The Scandinavian quintet of Ole-Henrik Moe on violin, Kim Johannesen on guitar; Ola Hoyer on double bass; Erik Nylander on drums & drum machine; and Klaus Ellerhusen-Holm on alto saxophone and Bb on clarinet, in a daring album of mostly Ellerhusen-Holm compositions, arranged collectively into these creative and energetic gems. ... Click to View


The Selva (Jacinto / Almeida / Morao): The Selva (Clean Feed)

The Portuguese trio The Selva of Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Goncalo Almeida (double bass) and Nuno Morao (drums) in an album building on world and historic music forms focused through modern improviser's ears, creating a hybrid approach that slowly reveals its jazz roots in an unhurried but cultured take on new creative music. ... Click to View


Rune Your Day (Mathisen / Roligheten / Nergaard / Skalstad): Rune Your Day (Clean Feed)

Rather than ancient Germanic alphabet letters, "Rune" Your Day is named for Norwegian composer and band-leader, double bassist Rune Nergaard [Bushman's Revenge], and his quartet with Jorgen Mathisen on alto & soprano sax & clarinet, Andre Roligheten on tenor & baritone sax, and Axel Skalstad on drums, for an album of concentrated, creative jazz. ... Click to View


Humcrush (Storlokken / Stronen): Enter Humcrush (Shhpuma)

After a six year break the Humcrush duo of Stale Storlokken on keys and Thomas Stronen on drums & electronics return with this studio album of rhythmic angularities and experimental sound worlds, drawing on their experiences with bands including Supersilent, Food, Elephant9, Time is a blind guide, Meadow and Motorpsycho. ... Click to View


Thollem / Mazurek: Blind Curves and Box Canyons (Relative Pitch)

Recorded at an exhibition of visual works by Chicago trumpeter Rob Mazurek in Texas, this was the first meeting with pianist Thollem McDonas, in an ardent session of explorative improvisation using electric and analog piano, sythn, samplers, cornet, voice, bells and effects; inquisitive and cathartic music of great drive. ... Click to View


JR3 (Olaf Rupp / Rudi Mahall / Jan Roder): Happy Jazz (Relative Pitch)

The Berlin trio of Rudi Mahall on clarinet and bass clarinet, Olaf Rupp on electric and acoustic guitar and Jan Roder on double bass in an ironically packaged album of free improvisation of the highest standard, taking the listener on a journey of informed free jazz that references the past in thoroughly modern approaches to creative music. ... Click to View


Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society: Simultonality [VINYL] (Eremite)

Chicago bassist and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Abrams follows up his incredible "Simultonality" album with this faster-paced album recorded with his Natural Information Society, joining traditional musics, American minimalism & jazz with the gnawa ceremonial instrument the guimbri. ... Click to View


Dunmall / Edwards / Noble / Sanders: Go Straight Around The Square (FMR)

The stellar quartet of Paul Dunmall on tenor and soprano saxophone, John Edwards on bass, Liam Noble on piano, and Mark Sanders on drums performing 2 extended improvisations balancing energetic playing with contemplative conversation, captured live at the Vortex, in London, England, in 2016. ... Click to View


Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert / Rafal Mazur: Oneness (FMR)

The well-traveled working group of Francois Carrier (alto saxophone, Chinese oboe), Michel Lambert (drums) and Rafal Mazur (acoustic bass guitar) performing live at Alchemia Club in Krakow, Poland in 2015 for an excellent example of collective free improvisation with distinctive and unconventional approaches to their dialog. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Ove Volquartz: Answers And Maybe A Question? (FMR)

Udo Schindler's Salon for Sound and Art at Krailing in Krailing, Germany is the setting for this superb live duo concert, capturing Schindler and Ove Volquartz both on bass and double bass clarinet, showing the breadth of sonic possibilites and diverse approaches from the deepest of clarinets performed by two masterful musicians. ... Click to View


Runcible Quintet, The (featuring John Edwards / Neil Metcalfe): Five (FMR)

The Runciple Quintet of John Edwards on double bass, Marcello Magliocchi on drums, Neil Metcalfe on flute, Adrian Northover on soprano saxophone, and Daniel Thompson on acoustic guitar recording at IKLECTIC, in London in 2016 for 5 excellent examples of detailed, collective improvisation. ... Click to View


Rob Burke / George Lewis / Paul Grabowsky / Mark Helias: Shift (FMR)

A meeting in NY's Lower East Village between four improvisors--Robert Burke on saxes, George Lewis on trombone & electronics, Paul Grabowsky on piano & snare drum, and Mark Helias on acoustic bass--playing a pre-composed work, blending 21st century composition with modern jazz sensibility, enhanced by Lewis' computer-based "shapeshifts". ... Click to View


Gauden / Hanslip: And How The Who Can Think the What... (FMR)

UK Tenor saxophonist Mark Hanslip and drummer Ed Gauden in their 3rd record together, here stripped down to a duo, inspired by a planned trio concert where the pianist was unable to perform; the resulting show worked so well that the two decided to take it to the studio, this album the result of impressive avant interchanges in 8 succinct tracks. ... Click to View


Szilard Mezei: Still Now (If You Still) (FMR)

An exciting album crossing free improvisation with chamber approaches and extended techniques from Serbian violist Szilard Mezei performing in a trio with pianist Marina Dzukljev and drummer/percussionist Vasco Trilla, recording in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2017. ... 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 Br÷tzmann 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 Br÷tzmann 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...



continued...




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