A meeting between two accomplished saxophonists recorded live at Kernel Brewery, in London in 2014, and at The Studio in Derby, with Seymour Wright on alto saxophone and Evan Parker on both alto and soprano, criss-crossing and combining in exuberant and astonishing ways.
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Catalog ID: Fataka 12
Squidco Product Code: 21874
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Track 1 and 2 recorded at the Kernel Brewery, in London, England, on October 5th, 2014 by Sebastian Lexer Track 3, 4 and 5 recorded at The Studio, Derby, England on October 12th, 2014 by David Reid
Evan Parker-soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Seymour Wright-alto 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 Seymour Wright
"Seymour Wright - saxophonist, investigator, artist - lives in London. His practice is about the saxophone - music, history and technique - actual and potential; an on-going, rigorous and exhaustive exploration of the instrument. The energy of this learning is applied to various collaborations and contexts to access/share what he has called the 'awkward wealth of investigation'. His work is documented on two widely acclaimed self-released collections Seymour Wright of Derby (2008) and Seymour Writes Back (2015). As well as STEPS, his current collaborations include lll人 (with Daichi Yoshikawa and Paul Abbott), GUO (with Daniel Blumberg) and XT (with Paul Abbott)."-Cafe Oto (https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/artists/seymour-wright/)
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1. Wheel I 17:55
2. Wheel II 9:35
3. Stone I 2:45
4. Stone II 9:58
5. Stone III 5:18
sample the album:
"Fascinating combination of two uncompromising saxophonists. Seymour Wright grew up listening to Evan Parker's radical reshaping of the saxophone and both develops and deconstructs it in his own playing. Together, the two interrupt and augment each other incessantly, creating tight spirals of difference and similarity that crackle with ideas and energy."-Fataka
"These sorts of duo collaborations between lauded improv veterans and young bucks are pretty much a dime a dozen these days, so it can be tempting to ignore each and every one. Still if Tie the Stone to the Wheel tells you anything, it's that there are still many gems amid the deluge. My previous encounters with saxophonist Seymour Wright were attending a couple of live shows by his lll人 trio, and to call them unsubtle would be putting it lightly, as Wright blared away on sax like he's been pumping Brötzmann's Machine Gun straight into his veins over a wall of noise by his two compadres, one on drums, the other banging a contact microphone onto a metal box. Suffice to say that lll人 are exhausting, and not in a good way. Teamed up with the great and evergreen Evan Parker, however, Seymour Wright displays a talent for both melody and improvisation that were swallowed up entirely during those two live outings.
The two sets that make up Tie the Stone to the Wheel were also recorded live, and is broken down on record into five joint improvisations that, while different, could just as easily be listened to as one continuous piece, which is to the pair's credit given the separation of time and place between the two dates. Kudos must go to Sebastian Lexer, who recorded the sets, as the clarity between Wright's alto and Parker's tenor and soprano saxes is never less than crystalline, making it easy-and a pleasure-to follow the flights of both artists as they dance and dual with one another.
It would be understandable if Seymour Wright were overwhelmed to be sparring with a figure as renowned as Evan Parker (and who is, on the evidence of this record, a clear influence on the younger man), but from the first notes of "Wheel I," both display a robust confidence and clear joy in playing together and against one another. I say "against" because these pieces are jousts as much as they are duets, with constant interjections from one of the saxophonists across the bows of the other. If improv is a conversation, then Parker and Wright like to interrupt one another as much as they enjoy the chit chat. It's not all macho cross-fire, though, and the three parts of "Stone" are where both really shine, ignoring the limitations of being just two saxes and carving out melodic lines that owe as much to Coltrane and even Charlie Parker as they do to the raw edge of improv. I'm even reminded Ellery Eskelin's Solo live at Snug's album from last year. Parker and Wright are far more indebted to the atonal traditions of British improv than Eskelin, but like him are able, albeit less frequently, to use the bare bones of their craft to tap into the melodicism of traditional jazz.
Tie the Stone to the Wheel is a joyful union of two acute minds who take the opportunity to really flex their muscles but also find the common ground of harmony and beauty. My apologies to Seymour Wright for pre-judging him, and thanks as ever to Evan Parker for an ever-astonishing musical output."-Joseph Burnett, Dusted Magazine
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