UK multi-reed master Evan Parker brings an all-star electroacoustic septet to the 2014 Victoriaville Festival for the massive and wonderfully detailed two part composition "Seven", performed with Peter Evans, Okkyung Lee, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Sam Pluta, and Ned Rothenberg.
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Catalog ID: cd 127
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Recorded live at the 30th annual Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, in Victoriaville, Canada on May 18th, 2014.
Peter Evans-piccolo trumpet, trumpet
George Lewis-electronics, trombone
Ned Rothenberg-bass clarinet, clarinet, shakuhachi
Evan Parker-soprano saxophone
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1. Seven-1 45:50
2. Seven-2 19:11
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UK multi-reed free improvising master Evan Parker brings an all-star electroacoustic septet to the 2014 Victoriaville Festival for the massive and wonderfully detailed two part composition "Seven", performed with Peter Evans, Okkyung Lee, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Sam Pluta, and Ned Rothenberg.
"Seven presents a compact, slimmed down, lean version of Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. The expansive, texturally rich music of the septet brings to mind the edgy feel of early free improvisation.
Parker's compositional method is simple:
"My art of composition consists in choosing the right people and asking them to improvise. The resulting music arises from this sequence of decisions.My art of composition consists in choosing the right people and these are the right people"
Of course, it is not quite so simple; for choosing the "right people" entails a knowledge of who those people are and what they might bring to the improvisational discourse.
In this case, two of the acoustic instrumentalists - Rothenberg and Evans - are players who, in forging their own identities, have fully entered into Parker's own mind-bending, circularly-probing musical methodology.
The four electronics players (with Lewis doubling sparingly but incisively on trombone) approach the electro-acoustic gathering differently than the way players normally do in Parker's large ElectroAcoustic Ensembles. While in those ensembles, the electronic players have been mainly signal or sound processors who primarily reshape and remold sounds of other ensemble members, here the electro musicians do that only moderately. Through varied technical means, they emit a distinctive particulated sound field that exists as an interactive but dimensional counterpoint to the acoustic instrumental output.
Much of the edginess of Seven stems directly from this. For while the performance (in two parts) has the feel of a true organically-arrived-at ensemble music, the respective acoustic and electro players - due to the entirely different manners in which they are producing sounds - follow different "logical" trajectories. The two "logics" together in the one musical space create a good deal of the music's inner tension.
It is worth noting that in early free improvisation - say from the period of Topography of the Lungs (Incus 1, July 1970) onward - much of the tension in the music - which is the push-and-pull between known and unknown, cohesion and dissolution - was due to the players' courageous ongoing expansion of instrumental language. But players have pushed language to its virtual tipping point; so that what once sounded outrageous and demanding of innovative responses is now heard as commonplace. So presently, it seems, formal expansions - such as we hear in the collusion of logic differentials in this music - may be more the way forward.
To be sure, both the acoustic and electro musicians of Seven are at the top of their games. While there is an overarching dramatic contour to the music - it rises and falls, opens and closes, shifts densities - the whole unfolds with unselfconscious effortlessness; it feels unscripted and of the moment.
The acoustic players, while sensitive to each other, pursue the inner and outer ranges of their instruments with an independence tempered only by self-imposed structural imperatives. Evans' trumpet frequently masks itself in electronic-sounding metallic and breathy slurs. Lee's stringy cello pulls and tugs at the direction of the ensemble or gets lost in staccato electro barrages. Rothenberg opens and ends the long first piece on shakuhachi which, in the midst of atmospheric electro rumblings, might pass for music from a Japanese sci-fi samurai film. And Parker - always a sympathetic co-conspirator - lends full support to his musical compatriots on his most agile instrument, the soprano saxophone, which he alternately rides to levels approaching the complexity of his solo music.
The electro players for their part - I am unable to differentiate between them individually - counter the acoustic sounds with otherworldly smears, stutters, sloshes, and scribbles; or explosively pointillistic sparks, crackles, gurgles, and prickly static.
It all adds up to exceptionally stimulating music for the listener, at the center of which is an edginess we've long associated with classically great free improvisation."-Henry Kuntz
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• Show Bio for Peter Evans
"Peter Evans is a trumpet player, and improvisor/composer based in New York City since 2003. Evans is part of a broad, hybridized scene of musical experimentation and his work cuts across a wide range of modern musical practices and traditions. Peter is committed to the simultaneously self-determining and collaborative nature of musical improvisation as a compositional tool, and works with an ever-expanding group of musicians and composers in the creation of new music. His primary groups as a leader are the Peter Evans Quintet and the Zebulon trio. In addition, Evans has been performing and recording solo trumpet music since 2002 and is widely recognized as a leading voice in the field, having released several recordings over the past decade. He is a member of the cooperative groups Pulverize the Sound (with Mike Pride and Tim Dahl) and Rocket Science (with Evan Parker, Craig Taborn and Sam Pluta) and is constantly experimenting and forming new configurations with like minded players. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Yarn/Wire, the Donaueschingen Musiktage Festival, the Jerome Foundation's Emerging Artist Program, and the Doris Duke Foundation for the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival. Evans has presented and/or performed his works at major festivals worldwide and tours his own groups extensively. He has worked with some of the leading figures in new music: John Zorn, Kassa Overall, Jim Black, Weasel Walter, Levy Lorenzo, Nate Wooley, Steve Schick, Mary Halvorson, Joe McPhee, George Lewis, and performs with both ICE and the Wet Ink Ensemble. He has been releasing recordings on his own label, More is More, since 2011."-Peter Evans Website (http://pevans.squarespace.com/about/)
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• Show Bio for Okkyung Lee
"Okkyung Lee, a New York-based artist and South Korea native, has created a body of work blurring genre boundaries through collaborations and compositions while pushing the limitation of contemporary cello performance techniques. Her music draws from noise and extended techniques, jazz, Western classical, and Korean traditional and popular music.
Since moving to New York in 2000, She has released more than 20 albums including the latest solo record Ghil produced by Lasse Marhaug on EditionsMego/Ideologic Organ, Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer) on Tzadik.She has performed and recorded with numerous artists from wide ranges such as Laurie Anderson, David Behrman, Mark Fell, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Hval, Vijay Iyer, Christian Marclay, Ikue Mori, Lawrence D "Butch" Morris, Marina Rosenfeld, Jim o'Rourke, Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, C Spencer Yeh and John Zorn to name just a few.
Since 2010, she has been developing a site-specific duo project with New York based dancer/choreographer Michelle Boulé. They have performed at Issue Project Room, Mount Tremper Art Center and send+receive fesival in Winnipeg, Canada and scheduled perform at The Met Breuer Building on March 12th, 2016 as a part of the inaugural program, curated by pianist/composer Vijay Iyer. She opened for a legendary experimental rock group Swans in May, 2015 in Northern Europe and UK. In early 2015, Okkyung presented new compositions commissioned by London Sinfonietta as a part of Christian Marclay's exhibit at White Cube Gallery in London.
Okkyung was rewarded with prestigious Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2015 and received Foundation For Contemporary Arts Grant in 2010.
She received a dual bachelor's degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and a master's degree in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music in 2000."-Okkyung Lee Website (http://www.okkyunglee.info/about)
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• Show Bio for George Lewis
"George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A 2015 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis has received a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2015, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus, honoris causa) from the University of Edinburgh.
A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 140 recordings. His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Ensemble Erik Satie, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Harvestworks, Ensemble Either/Or, Orkestra Futura, Turning Point Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others. Lewis has served as Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist In Residence, Brown University.
Lewis received the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society's Music in American Culture Award. Lewis is co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera Afterword, commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in October 2015 and has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic.
Professor Lewis came to Columbia in 2004, having previously taught at the University of California, San Diego, Mills College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Koninklijke Conservatorium Den Haag, and Simon Fraser University's Contemporary Arts Summer Institute. Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey."-Columbia University (http://music.columbia.edu/bios/george-e-lewis)
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• Show Bio for Ikue Mori
"Ikue Mori moved from her native city of Tokyo to New York in 1977. She started playing drums and soon formed the seminal NO WAVE band DNA, with fellow noise pioneers Arto Lindsay and Tim Wright. DNA enjoyed legendary cult status, while creating a new brand of radical rhythms and dissonant sounds; forever altering the face of rock music.
In the mid 80's Ikue started in employ drum machines in the unlikely context of improvised music. While limited to the standard technology provided by the drum machine, she has never the less forged her own highly sensitive signature style. Through out in 90's She has subsequently collaborated with numerous improvisors throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, while continuing to produce and record her own music. 1998, She was invited to perform with Ensemble Modern as the soloist along with Zeena Parkins, and composer Fred Frith, also "One hundred Aspects of the Moon" commissioned by Roulette/Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Ikue won the Distinctive Award for Prix Ars Electronics Digital Music category in 99.
In 2000 Ikue started using the laptop computer to expand on her already signature sound, thus broadening her scope of musical expression. 2000 commissioned by the KITCHEN ensemble, wrote and premired the piece "Aphorism" also awarded Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship. 2003 commissioned by RELACHE Ensemble to write a piece for film In the Street and premired in Philadelphia. Started working with visual played by the music since 2004. In 2005 Awarded Alphert/Ucross Residency.
Ikue received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2006. In 2007 the Tate Modern commissioned Ikue to create a live sound track for screenings of Maya Deren's silent films. In 2008 Ikue celebrated her 30th year in NY and performed at the Japan Society. Recent commissioners include the Montalvo Arts Center and SWR German radio program and Shajah Art foundation in UAE. Current working groups include MEPHISTA with Sylvie Courvoisier and Susie Ibarra, PHANTOM ORCHARD with Zeena Parkins, project with Koichi Makigami and various ensembles of John Zorn. New duo Twindrums project with YoshimiO workshop/lecture in various schools include University of Gothenburg, Dartmouth Collage, New England Conservatory, Mills Collage, Stanford University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago"-Ikue Mori Website (http://www.ikuemori.com/bio.html)
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• Show Bio for Sam Pluta
"Sam Pluta is a New York City-based composer, laptop improviser, electronics performer, and sound artist. Though his work has a wide breadth, his central focus is on the laptop as a performance instrument capable of sharing the stage with groups ranging from new music ensembles to world-class instrumental improvisers. By creating unique interactions of electronics, instruments, and sonic spaces, Pluta's vibrant musical universe fuses the traditionally separate sound worlds of acoustic instruments and electronics, creating sonic spaces which envelop the audience and resulting in a music focused on visceral interaction of instrumental performers with reactive computerized sound worlds. As a composer of instrumental music, Sam has written works for Wet Ink Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, Timetable Percussion, Mivos Quartet, RIOT Trio, Ensemble Dal Niente, Jessie Marino, Mantra Percussion, TAK, Dave Eggar, and Prism Saxophone Quartet. His compositions range from solo instrumental works to pieces for ensemble with electronics to compositions for large ensemble and orchestra. In addition to acoustic and electro-acoustic works, Pluta has written extensive solo electronic repertoire ranging from multi-channel acousmatic compositions to solo laptop works with video to laptop ensemble compositions for up to 15 players.
As an improviser, Sam has collaborated with some of the finest creative musicians in the world, including Peter Evans, Evan Parker, Ikue Mori, Craig Taborn, Jim Black, Anne La Berge, and George Lewis. Sam is a member of multiple improvisation-based ensembles, the jazz influenced Peter Evans Quintet, the free improvisation-based Rocket Science (with Evan Parker, Craig Taborn and Peter Evans), the analog synth and laptop duo exclusiveOr (with Jeff Snyder), his longstanding duo with Peter Evans, and the New York City-based power group Sonic Overload (with Jim Altieri, Dan Peck, Tom Blancarte, Peter Evans, and Jeff Snyder). Sam has also performed with the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. With these various groups he has toured Europe and America and performed at major festivals and venues, such as the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, the Moers and Donaueshingen Festivals in Germany, Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and The Vortex in London. Sam is the Technical Director for the Wet Ink Ensemble, a group for whom he is a member composer as well as principal electronics performer. As a performer of chamber music with Wet Ink and other groups, in addition to his own works, Sam has performed and premiered works by Peter Ablinger, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Katharina Rosenberger, George Lewis, Ben Hackbarth, Alvin Lucier, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Alex Mincek, Kate Soper, and Eric Wubbels among others.
Dr Pluta studied composition and electronic music at Columbia University, where he received his DMA in 2012. He received Masters degrees from the University of Birmingham in the UK and the University of Texas at Austin, and completed his undergraduate work at Santa Clara University. His principal teachers include George Lewis, Brad Garton, Tristan Murail, Fabien Levy, Scott Wilson, Jonty Harrison, Russell Pinkston, Lynn Shurtleff, and Bruce Pennycook. A dedicated pedagogue, Sam teaches Composing with Sound and Technology and Improvisation at Bennington College. From 2011-15 he directed the Electronic Music Studio at Manhattan School of Music, and has taught Music Humanities and The History of Sound Art at Columbia University. For the past 15 years he has taught composition, musicianship, electronic music, and an assortment of specialty courses at the Walden School, where he also serves as Director of Electronic Music and Academic Dean."-Sam Pluta Website (http://www.sampluta.com/)
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• Show Bio for Ned Rothenberg
"Composer/Performer Ned Rothenberg has been internationally acclaimed for both his solo and ensemble music, presented for the past 33 years on 5 continents. He performs primarily on alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and the shakuhachi - an endblown Japanese bamboo flute. His solo work utilizes an expanded palette of sonic language, creating a kind of personal idiom all its own. In an ensemble setting, he leads the trio Sync, with Jerome Harris, guitars and Samir Chatterjee, tabla, works with the Mivos string quartet playing his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings and collaborates around the world with fellow improvisors. Recent recordings include this Quintet, The World of Odd Harmonics, Ryu Nashi (new music for shakuhachi), and Inner Diaspora, all on John Zorn's Tzadik label, as well as Live at Roulette with Evan Parker, and The Fell Clutch, on Rothenberg's Animul label."-Ned Rothenberg Website (http://www.nedrothenberg.com/short&extended_biography.html)
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• Show Bio for Evan Parker
"Evan Parker was born in Bristol in 1944 and began to play the saxophone at the age of 14. Initially he played alto and was an admirer of Paul Desmond; by 1960 he had switched to tenor and soprano, following the example of John Coltrane, a major influence who, he would later say, determined "my choice of everything". In 1962 he went to Birmingham University to study botany but a trip to New York, where he heard the Cecil Taylor trio (with Jimmy Lyons and Sunny Murray), prompted a change of mind. What he heard was "music of a strength and intensity to mark me for life ... l came back with my academic ambitions in tatters and a desperate dream of a life playing that kind of music - 'free jazz' they called it then."
Parker stayed in Birmingham for a time, often playing with pianist Howard Riley. In 1966 he moved to London, became a frequent visitor to the Little Theatre Club, centre of the city's emerging free jazz scene, and was soon invited by drummer John Stevens to join the innovative Spontaneous Music Ensemble which was experimenting with new kinds of group improvisation. Parker's first issued recording was SME's 1968 Karyobin, with a line-up of Parker, Stevens, Derek Bailey, Dave Holland and Kenny Wheeler. Parker remained in SME through various fluctuating line-ups - at one point it comprised a duo of Stevens and himself - but the late 1960s also saw him involved in a number of other fruitful associations.
He began a long-standing partnership with guitarist Bailey, with whom he formed the Music Improvisation Company and, in 1970, co-founded Incus Records. (Tony Oxley, in whose sextet Parker was then playing, was a third co-founder; Parker left Incus in the mid-1980s.) Another important connection was with the bassist Peter Kowald who introduced Parker to the German free jazz scene. This led to him playing on Peter Brötzmann's 1968 Machine Gun, Manfred Schoof's 1969 European Echoes and, in 1970, joining pianist Alex von Schlippenbach and percussionist Paul Lovens in the former's trio, of which he is still a member: their recordings include Pakistani Pomade, Three Nails Left, Detto Fra Di Noi, Elf Bagatellen and Physics.
Parker pursued other European links, too, playing in the Pierre Favre Quartet (with Kowald and Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer) and in the Dutch Instant Composers Pool of Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. The different approaches to free jazz he encountered proved both a challenging and a rewarding experience. He later recalled that the German musicians favoured a "robust, energy-based thing, not to do with delicacy or detailed listening but to do with a kind of spirit-raising, a shamanistic intensity. And l had to find a way of surviving in the heat of that atmosphere ... But after a while those contexts became more interchangeable and more people were involved in the interactions, so all kinds of hybrid musics came out, all kinds of combinations of styles."
A vital catalyst for these interactions were the large ensembles in which Parker participated in the 1970s: Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO) and occasional big bands led by Kenny Wheeler. In the late 70s Parker also worked for a time in Wheeler's small group, recording Around Six and, in 1980, he formed his own trio with Guy and LJCO percussionist Paul Lytton (with whom he had already been working in a duo for nearly a decade). This group, together with the Schlippenbach trio, remains one of Parker's top musical priorities: their recordings include Tracks, Atlanta, Imaginary Values, Breaths and Heartbeats, The Redwood Sessions and At the Vortex. In 1980, Parker directed an Improvisers Symposium in Pisa and, in 1981, he organised a special project at London's Actual Festival. By the end of the 1980s he had played in most European countries and had made various tours to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. ln 1990, following the death of Chris McGregor, he was instrumental in organising various tributes to the pianist and his fellow Blue Notes; these included two discs by the Dedication Orchestra, Spirits Rejoice and lxesa.
Though he has worked extensively in both large and small ensembles, Parker is perhaps best known for his solo soprano saxophone music, a singular body of work that in recent years has centred around his continuing exploration of techniques such as circular breathing, split tonguing, overblowing, multiphonics and cross-pattern fingering. These are technical devices, yet Parker's use of them is, he says, less analytical than intuitive; he has likened performing his solo work to entering a kind of trance-state. The resulting music is certainly hypnotic, an uninterrupted flow of snaky, densely-textured sound that Parker has described as "the illusion of polyphony". Many listeners have indeed found it hard to credit that one man can create such intricate, complex music in real time. Parker's first solo recordings, made in 1974, were reissued on the Saxophone Solos CD in 1995; more recent examples are Conic Sections and Process and Reality, on the latter of which he does, for the first time, experiment with multi-tracking. Heard alone on stage, few would disagree with writer Steve Lake that "There is, still, nothing else in music - jazz or otherwise - that remotely resembles an Evan Parker solo concert."
While free improvisation has been Parker's main area of activity over the last three decades, he has also found time for other musical pursuits: he has played in 'popular' contexts with Annette Peacock, Scott Walker and the Charlie Watts big band; he has performed notated pieces by Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman and Frederic Rzewski; he has written knowledgeably about various ethnic musics in Resonance magazine. A relatively new field of interest for Parker is improvising with live electronics, a dialogue he first documented on the 1990 Hall of Mirrors CD with Walter Prati. Later experiments with electronics in the context of larger ensembles have included the Synergetics - Phonomanie III project at Ullrichsberg in 1993 and concerts by the new EP2 (Evan Parker Electronic Project) in Berlin, Nancy and at the 1995 Stockholm Electronic Music Festival where Parker's regular trio improvised with real-time electronics processed by Prati, Marco Vecchi and Phillip Wachsmann. "Each of the acoustic instrumentalists has an electronic 'shadow' who tracks him and feeds a modified version of his output back to the real-time flow of the music."
The late 80s and 90s brought Parker the chance to play with some of his early heroes. He worked with Cecil Taylor in small and large groups, played with Coltrane percussionist Rashied Ali, recorded with Paul Bley: he also played a solo set as support to Ornette Coleman when Skies of America received its UK premiere in 1988. The same period found Parker renewing his acquaintance with American colleagues such as Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and George Lewis, with all of whom he had played in the 1970s (often in the context of London's Company festivals). His 1993 duo concert with Braxton moved John Fordham in The Guardian to raptures over "saxophone improvisation of an intensity, virtuosity, drama and balance to tax the memory for comparison".
Parker's 50th birthday in 1994 brought celebratory concerts in several cities, including London, New York and Chicago. The London performance, featuring the Parker and Schlippenbach trios, was issued on a highly-acclaimed two-CD set, while participants at the American concerts included various old friends as well as more recent collaborators in Borah Bergman and Joe Lovano. The NYC radio station WKCR marked the occasion by playing five days of Parker recordings. 1994 also saw the publication of the Evan Parker Discography, compiled by ltalian writer Francesco Martinelli, plus chapters on Parker in books on contemporary musics by John Corbett and Graham Lock.
Parker's future plans involve exploring further possibilities in electronics and the development of his solo music. They also depend to a large degree on continuity of the trios, of the large ensembles, of his more occasional yet still long-standing associations with that pool of musicians to whose work he remains attracted. This attraction, he explained to Coda's Laurence Svirchev, is attributable to "the personal quality of an individual voice". The players to whom he is drawn "have a language which is coherent, that is, you know who the participants are. At the same time, their language is flexible enough that they can make sense of playing with each other ... l like people who can do that, who have an intensity of purpose." "-Evan Parker Website (http://evanparker.com/biography.php)
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