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Re-issuing UK improvising saxophonist Evan Parker's stunning 2003 solo release on soprano sax, recorded in 1986 in St. Paul's Church, Oxford by the late Michael Gerzon--"a giant in the field of audio"--using the natural resonance of the space to augment Parker's incredible technique.

Parker, Evan
The Snake Decides [REPRESS]

Parker, Evan: The Snake Decides [REPRESS] (psi)

Label: psi    
Released in: Great Britain    

""We play to the informed listener. We don't play to the person who's tumbled in for the first time. We're not looking to make it easy." Evan Parker, 2003.

The music on Parker's Psi label, particularly his own, remains faithful to the spirit of the quote above. To get the most out of Parker, one should be prepared to invest some time. Such investment is repaid many times over. More than most, Parker's musical universe can seem self-contained, to be judged only by its own criteria. However, familiarity with (some of) his other recordings can greatly enhance one's appreciation. Thankfully, Parker continues to make good on his promise to re-release all of his Incus recordings on Psi. They are vital recordings in their own right, and their absence from the catalogue has hampered a full appreciation of Parker's work.

Originally recorded and released in 1986, The Snake Decides is the last of Parker's solo soprano sax recordings from Incus to be released on CD. It was recorded direct to a two-track master and documents four improvisations recorded in real time with no trickery. (It is always worth saying that, as new listeners often don't believe it.)

The title track is the longest, at almost twenty minutes. Although its title refers to a woodcut of the same name by George Murphy, it provides a ready-made excuse to focus on the serpentine qualities of Parker's soprano playing. His relentlessly energetic flurries of notes defy logic or reason, seeming to spiral and to tie themselves in knots and coils. If you are seeking to invest some time in Parker's music, I humbly suggest playing this album back-to-back with Lines Burnt in Light , Parker's solo soprano sax album from 2001. The contrasts are fascinating and reveal the ongoing development of the ever-changing Parker. It is a delight to welcome The Snake Decides back. Highly recommended."-John Eyles, All About Jazz

Six years after Six of One, Evan Parker proposed another solo album. The Snake Decides features the man, his soprano saxophone, and a gifted sound engineer in Michael Gerzon, to whom Parker pays tribute in the liner notes to the CD reissue (a reissue that sticks to the original album, no bonus material on this one). Six of One is hard to beat, especially since at the time (1980) it represented a thunderous introduction to Parker's solo playing. But The Snake Decides manages to raise the ante, if only slightly. Parker's circular breathing has grown more flexible and frantic. One pictures a mad snake charmer, playing multiple melodies at once to make the snakes stretch into different directions and move in interlocking patterns. In "Buriden's Ass" and "Haine's Last Tape," the number of notes per minute hits a peak. But Parker's music has never been about keeping score. The flurry is necessary to mesmerize the listener, to hypnotize him, to make everything else within earshot fade away. All that remains is this kaleidoscope of multiphonics. The title track, 20-minutes long, can seem like something of an ordeal, but the absence of a pause or break in the flow of notes obliterates time. But the best, most impressive pieces are the shorter ones; they are brighter, friskier. Recommended."-Francois Couture

See all items in the EMANEM & psi category

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Parker, Evan
May 2006
Solo Artist Recordings
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Free Improvisation
London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
EMANEM & psi
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Get additional information at All About Jazz

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Price: $17.95
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 4.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 5030243030620

Label: psi
Catalog ID: 03.06
Squidco Product Code: 2411

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2003
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded at St. Paul's Church, Oxford, England in 1986, by Michael Gerzon.


Evan Parker-soprano sax

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Track Listing:

1. The Snake Decides 19:56

2. Leipzig Folly 11:42

3. Buriden's Ass 6:29

4. Haine's Last Tape 6:01

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