Reprising their 1972 duo album recorded in a loft in London and employing electronics, the duo of saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer John Lytton revisit that collaboration in this studio album recorded in Chicago, a purely acoustic encounter of remarkable dialog that shows the wealth of experience, skill, and camaraderie developed through the last 50 years.
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Catalog ID: INT343
Squidco Product Code: 28491
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at Experimental Sound Studio, in Chicago, Illinois, on March 29th, 2019, by Alex Inglizian.
Evan Parker-tenor saxophone
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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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• Show Bio for Paul Lytton
"Paul Lytton (born 8 March 1947, London) is an English free jazz percussionist.
Lytton began on drums at age 16. He played jazz in London in the late 1960s while taking lessons on the tabla from P.R. Desai. In 1969 he began experimenting with free improvisational music, working in a duo with saxophonist Evan Parker. After adding bassist Barry Guy, the ensemble became the Evan Parker Trio. He and Parker continued to work together into the 2000s; more recent releases include trio releases with Marilyn Crispell in 1996 (Natives and Aliens) and 1999 (After Appleby).
A founding member of the London Musicians Collective, Lytton worked extensively on the London free improvisation scene in the 1970s, and aided Paul Lovens in the foundation of the Aachen Musicians' Cooperative in 1976.
Lytton has toured North America and Japan both solo and with improvisational ensembles. In 1999, he toured with Ken Vandermark and Kent Kessler, and recorded with Vandermark on English Suites. Lytton also collaborated with Jeffrey Morgan (alto & tenor saxophone), with whom he recorded the CD "Terra Incognita" Live in Cologne, Germany.
He played also on White Noise's pioneer electronic pop music album An Electric Storm in 1969."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lytton)
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1. ...The Dissent, That Began With The Quakers?... 4:40
2. ...Confused About England 4:38
3. England Feels Very Remote To Me 3:58
4. Alfreda Was Always Esspecially Cordial To Me...(Dedicated To Alfreda Benge) 4:26
5. ...Becoming Transfigured... 4:50
6. The Bonfires On Hampstead Heath 5:07
7. What Has It Become Entangled With Now ? 7:04
8. ... A Little Perplexing... 4:50
9. How Tight Knit Was England Then ! 5:36
10. ...Behaeding Their Own King ... 5:02
11. Each Thing,The One, The Other AndBoth Together Would Amount To Be The Truth 5:01
sample the album:
"This recording from Paul Lytton and Evan Parker marks their golden jubilee as musical collaborators and good friends, the title serving as a tip-of-the-hat to their first duo record Collective Calls (Urban) (Two Microphones) which was originally released on Incus in 1972 after they'd already played together for a couple of years. I've spent a good deal of time the last few weeks enjoying both albums and noting similarities and differences, and so it follows that this review is colored by the lense of that exercise. Gone are the electronics and prickly intensity of the 72' sessions, interchanged here with distinctively refined technique and a confederation secured through the blood-and-guts of a half century of collaboration.
The material that comprises the original set was recorded in a loft space in London over the course of two days. And while the recording quality is very good, the loft space and analogue equipment definitely color the ambiance. The current album was recorded at a studio in Chicago over the course of a single day, presumably using modern digital devices and systems. This difference manifests in a similar fashion to viewing old photographs of young men having fun in an informal situation, versus crystal clear digital portraits of the two masters they've become (though I doubt there was any lack of fun in the latter sessions). The song titles are snippets of text from Elias Canetti's autobiography "Party in the Blitz", which is set during the London Air raids of WW2. Many of Canetti's references are to Hampstead, where Lytton spent his adolescence. Parker said that Lytton found some of the passages rather moving, having lived away from England longer than he lived in it.
On "...the dissent, that began with the Quakers?..." rustling percussion is tinged with breathy calls and functions as a sort of rhythmic, staccato parley between the duo as they establish their footing. The next piece "...confused about England." finds Lytton quietly working over his trap set, opening up once Parker reveals himself with pad clatter and his unique constructions. On the third piece, "England feels very remote to me." Parker hints at snatches of melody, seeping Coltrane reconstructed through fractals. Lytton likewise bears tinges of Rashid Ali...perhaps I'm projecting, perhaps not, you can judge for yourself. On "Alfreda was always especially cordial to me" the salt and pepper percussion lays down a supporting structure for the forward and backward melodies, stout and daft, neither coming or going (both coming and going, both forward and backward).
"...becoming transfigured.." dredges descriptive saxophone passages in a menagerie of breakables. On "The bonfires of Hampstead Heath." the bustle of barely there skins and pads gradually accumulates energy, and then boils over. For "What has it become entangled..." Parker strings together hefty metallic globules, varying in tonal color, set against the thudding counterpoint of Lytton's kick drum. "How tight knit was England then!" starts with the slow decay of metallic soundings and reed pops bubbling from a spring, beckoning the listener downstream with it's momentum, and eventually roiling into whitewater. On "...beheading their own King..." the saxophone floats on the sizzle of the percussion before abruptly submerging and going quiet amid the lingering effervescence. The last track "Each thing, the one, the other and both together would amount to the truth." emerges slowly from silence, Parker envisaging in a single breath over Lytton's humidity, after which the duo dovetails into epilogue.
Friends for the sake of friendship making sounds for the sake of sounds. Enduring the passing of seasons and the chasm of distances and wheeling back around now and again to strike sparks in shadow, to rekindle the flame. When asked to share the story of the duo's lengthy history (which Bill Shoemaker's excellent liner notes highlight), Parker eluded to a (brilliant) piece by the poet and music journalist Paul Haines (whose book of collected works "Secret Carnival Workers", I might add, was co-edited by our own Stuart Broomer), also called " Jubilee ", which includes the following passage, which struck me as an appropriate conclusion to this piece:
"-Nick Metzger, The Free Jazz Collective
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