Friday, April 05, 2024

Now I Am Become Breath: Evan Parker 80


Evan Parker/Peter Brötzmann Quartet  - Homage to Albert, Fred & Bill I

I've got an April you'll remember all squared up, with two 80s, a 90 and three (!!!) 100s all ready to roll.

This here is the first 80. Quick kids, run as fast and as far as you can from the bearded saxophone demon!

I've been a huge fan of this guy since a long time ago, so I'm thrilled to finally cover him on a milestone birthday such as this.

Today's honoree is one of the rare handful that has managed, in a career spanning almost 55 years as a recorded artist, to never -- not even once -- play a single note or phrase or composition that would have been deemed at all commercial.

As visceral and explosive as any human to have gripped a horn in our lifetimes, his style is like nine volcanoes of sound, once you toss in the ability to circular breathe for hours at a time.

As integral a player to the British Jazz continuum as shall ever be, he's been a part of some of the most unclassifiably insane Free records ever made, ones that are definitive of the genre and stand up to scrutiny as more than infernal blasts of chaos.

His soprano stuff alone -- on seminal, ecstasy-inducing LPs like The Spontaneous Music Ensemble's telepathically sublime Karyōbin -- is worthy of a Mt. Rushmore of practitioners of the straight horn.

And as proficient and supernovalicious as he is on soprano, he's just as astrally volcanic on tenor. He may look like Jerry Garcia, but his heart is in pure Coltrane territory a lot of the time.

Like I said he's been a part of so many seminal improv records, it's almost impossible to count them all or quantify his contributions. Just his duets with guitar deity Derek Bailey alone set a standard that all extemporizers aspire to even start to approach.

Did I mention he co-founded -- with Bailey and drummer Tony Oxley -- perhaps the alpha/omega record label for European improvised music? It's called Incus and it's been a thing for decades at the forefront of this sort of bleeding edge material.

We'll celebrate this extraordinarily undersung reedsmith by showcasing him in two totally different contexts at gigs four years apart.

Evan Parker
Electro-Acoustic Ensemble
Queen Elizabeth Hall
London, UK

01 intro to part 1
02 Shadow Play
03 intro to part 2
04 The Eleventh Hour

Total time: 1:13:26
the 1st part is Evan Parker solo with electronics provided by himself
the 2nd part is with the full Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

Evan Parker - soprano saxophone & electronics
Agusti Fernandez - piano
Paul Lytton - drums, percussion & electronics
Joel Ryan - electronics
Marco Vecchi - electronics & spatial diffusion (FoH)
Walter Prati - electronics
Philipp Wachsmann - violin & electronics
John Edwards - bass
Lawrence Casserley - electronics
Richard Barrett - technician
Paul Obermayer - technician

digital capture of a BBC "Jazz On 3" 192/48 digital broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio and slightly retracked -- with volume boosted +3.5 dB throughout -- by EN, April 2024

Evan Parker/Peter Brötzmann Quartet
"Homage to Albert Ayler, Fred Anderson And Bill Dixon"
Sardegna e Jazz
Piazza del Nuraghe
Sant'Anna Arresi, Italy

01 Homage to Albert, Fred And Bill I
02 Homage to Albert, Fred And Bill II
03 Homage to Albert, Fred And Bill III
04 Homage to Albert, Fred And Bill IV
05 Homage to Albert, Fred And Bill V

Total time:  1:06:35
this music is 100% improvised

Evan Parker - tenor saxophone
Peter Brötzmann - alto + tenor saxophones & taragota
Harrison Bankhead - bass
Hamid Drake - drums

digital capture of a 192/48 RAI Radio3 digital broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio  and slightly remastered by EN, April 2024
369 & 402 MB FLAC respectively/direct link

I should mention that the first segment of the 2006 set is truly a treat, with our hero accompanying himself on live loops and soundscapes -- somewhat rare for him -- for 35 minutes of fun.

So there's Evan Parker, as trailblazing and uncompromising a musician as I'll ever cover on this page, and born this day in 1944 as well.

I'll be right back in 24, with the first of not one, not two, but three centennials blowing up this month.

I'd be out of bounds and sent to detention with the other wayward kids if I didn't tribute Evan Parker on his big 8-0, though, so as you breathe these delectable performances in, remember to thank Providence we get to overlap lifetimes with figures such as he.--J.