Bringing together three leaders from the UK free jazz scene, the new trio of Evan Parker on tenor sax, Steve Noble on drums & percussion, and John Edwards on double bass present a masterful album drawing from the roots of free improvisation in playing that rises and recedes like a tidal force, captured live at the Oorstof concert series in Antwerp.
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Label: Dropa Disc
Catalog ID: 004
Squidco Product Code: 23857
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded at the Oorstof concert series, Zuiderpershuis, Antwerp, on January 24th, 2015, by Michael Huon
Evan Parker-tenor saxophone
Steve Noble-drums, percussion
John Edwards-double bass
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1. Track 1 20:52
2. Track 2 17:52
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"It is always a treat to see some major musical innovators in action. Especially in a mind-blowing line-up, at the top of their game and unrecorded until now on this impressive new Dropa Disc release. Evan Parker might be a member of some legendary trios - one with von Schlippenbach and Paul Lovens and one with Barry Guy and Paul Lytton - still this brilliant master of the saxophone and pioneer of free music managed to surprise us big time when he introduced his trio with John Edwards and Steve Noble to the Belgian audience in January of 2015. Together with this ultimate rhythm section - backing artists like Peter Brötzmann, Akira Sakata and Julie Kjaer, to name a few - Parker reals out a truly mesmerising demonstration, full of individual brilliance, but most of all with a collective cohesion rendered with majestic imagination and endless iridescence. PEN is the first release of this trio ever, fitting perfectly next to the best works in these stellar musicians ever expanding discography."-Dropa Disc
Extended text by Guy Peters (Enola Magazine, Gonzo Circus, Cadence ... ):
"Without a doubt, Evan Parker belongs to the top league of free improvisers. For half a century now, he has been one of the most innovative, challenging and consistent members of the European avant-garde. Together with Alexander von Schlippenbach, Peter Brötzmann, Fred Van Hove and a handful of others, he is among the trailblazers who set and raised the bar. The best thing about it: he's still going strong. When he appeared in the Oorstof series with the terrific rhythm section of John Edwards (bass) and Steve Noble (drums), we were in a for a memorable night.
Parker is not only a legend because of his technical mastery and individual approach to the soprano and tenor saxophone, but also because he was/is a member and/or leader of several crucial bands. He was part of the legendary Brötzmann Octet that cut the Big Bang-record Machine Gun and he is a member of two of the most formidable trios in the history of improvised music: one with Von Schlippenhach and Paul Lovens, the other with Barry Guy and Paul Lytton. Also his documented trio with John Edwards and Mark Sanders is well-respected. Also his documented trio with John Edwards and Mark Sanders is well-respected. In the meantime, Parker has played with so many improvisers that it's hard to believe his stunning trio with John Edwards and Steve Noble, until now, went unrecorded.
Edwards and Noble are a tight rhythm section, appearing beside a.o. Alex Ward, Hans Koch, Alan Wilkinson, Peter Brötzmann, Sophie Agnel and, most recently, Julie Kjær. Though teaming up with Parker seemed inevitable the music generated by this trio - as displayed perfectly on this new Dropa Disc release - is stunning. There is no holding back, the musicians are not too respectful and it's no feast of impatient fury either. No, instead we hear three masters displaying an enormous control of their respective instruments - with Parker sticking to tenor saxophone - without losing the overall cohesion of the performance. It's rife with remarkable solo and duo moments, and even though these often belong to the highlights, you hear an exceptional solid unit.
We were already familiar with the breadth of Steve Noble's playing, as he appeared on Dropa Disc #001 (los bordes de las respuestas, by the Saint Francis Duo with Stephen O'Malley), but it's exciting to witness his amazing dynamics, range of textures, energy and rhythm. Equally at ease within abstract expression as in inflammatory interaction, he is the guy you need for a balance of thoughtfulness and vital energy. Edwards is his ideal sidekick: a player with agility, intelligence and a physical approach that sometimes borders on harassment. Together they create an intricate, lively and surprisingly soulful performance, serving as foundation, trigger and sparring partner for Parker's associative approach.
As such, this exceptional concert is not about easy effects, wild climaxes or raucous energy. Instead, it's a celebration of freedom and the direction in which it can be taken. During its best moments it sounds as if the music almost becomes self-evident in its organic cohesion. Not because the musicians rely on predictable patterns, but because the music seems to take over, flowing from three musicians in one identifiable language - something similar happened a few months later, when Ballister visited Oorstof, check the Dropa Disc #005 release. When you observe Parker in action, the man often stands there with a stoic, immovable pose, but these adjectives couldn't be further removed from this music's essence. The performance contained on this album is all about restless movement and ceaseless interaction. It is a celebration of the potential of improvised music."
• 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)
^ Hide Bio for Evan Parker
• Show Bio for Steve Noble
"Steve Noble is London's leading drummer, a fearless and constantly inventive improviser whose super-precise, ultra-propulsive and hyper-detailed playing has galvanized encounters with Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Stephen O'Malley, Joe McPhee, Alex Ward, Rhodri Davies and many, many more.
In the early eighties, Noble played with the Nigerian master drummer Elkan Ogunde, Rip Rig and Panic, Brion Gysin and the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, before going on to work with the pianist Alex Maguire and with Derek Bailey (including Company Weeks 1987, 89 and 90). He was featured in the Bailey's excellent TV series on Improvisation for Channel 4 based on his book 'Improvisation; its nature and practise'. He has toured and performed throughout Europe, Africa and America and currently leads the groups N.E.W (with John Edwards and Alex Ward) and DECOY (with John Edwards and Alexander Hawkins)."-https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/artists/steve-noble/ (Cafe Oto Website)
^ Hide Bio for Steve Noble
• Show Bio for John Edwards
"After taking up the bass, around 1987, John Edwards co-formed The Pointy Birds who went on to win awards for their music for The Cholmondeleys and Featherstonehaughs dance troupes. The group appeared at festivals in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Moers, Leverkusen, Copenhagen. Around 1990, Edwards played his first gigs with London improvisers such as Roger Turner, Lol Coxhill, Maggie Nicols, Phil Minton.
Between 1990 and 1995 Edwards was a member of three touring groups simultaneously: B-Shops For The Poor, The Honkies and GOD. During this period he also became an increasingly regular player on the London improvised music scene and performed his first solo gigs; he composed and performed music theatre with the bass and cello duo The Great Explorers, street-busked a lot and appeared at many more festivals in Germany, Estonia, France, Italy, Czech, etc.
Since 1995 John Edwards has become a "mainstay" of the London scene, playing with just about everybody, an activity that has seen him clocking up between 150 and 200 gigs a year. He has become regular player with Evan Parker, in many groupings, and with Tony Bevan, Veryan Weston, and Elton Dean, often in collaboration with Mark Sanders on percussion. He has become a more frequent player on the European (and festival) scene, appearing at Taktlos, Ulrichsburg, Nickelsdorf, Budapest, New Zealand and in the USA. He continues to work on solo performances."-EFI (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/musician/medwards.html)
^ Hide Bio for John Edwards
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