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Evan Parker

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  • Born: Bristol, England
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Among Europe's most innovative and intriguing saxophonists, Evan Parker's solos and playing style are distinguished by his creative use of circular breathing and false fingering. Parker can generate furious bursts, screeches, bleats, honks, and spiraling lines and phrases, and his solo sax work isn't for the squeamish. He's one of the few players not only willing but eager to demonstrate his affinity for late-period John Coltrane. Parker worked with a Coltrane-influenced quartet in Birmingham in the early '60s. Upon resettling in London in 1965, he began playing with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. He joined them in 1967 and remained until 1969. Parker met guitarist Derek Bailey while in the group, and the duo formed the Music Improvisation Company in 1968. Parker played with them until 1971, and also began working with the Tony Oxley Sextet in the late '60s. Parker started playing extensively with other European free music groups in the '70s, notably the Globe Unity Orchestra, as well as its founder Alexander von Schlippenbach's trio and quartet. Parker, Bailey, and Oxley co-formed Incus Records in 1970 and continued operating it through the '80s. Parker also played with Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and other groups with Bailey, and did duet sessions with John Stevens and Paul Lytton, as well as giving several solo concerts. Parker's albums as a leader and his collaborations are all for various foreign labels; they can be obtained through diligent effort and mail-order catalogs. Among his many releases are Process and Reality (1991), Breaths and Heartbeats (1995), Obliquities (1995), Bush Fire (1997), Here Now (1998), Drawn Inward (1999), Monkey Puzzle (2000), Two Seasons (2000), Alder Brook (2003), and After Appleby (2004). Eleventh Hour, officially credited to the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, appeared from ECM in 2005. Parker released Time Lapse, his debut on John Zorn’s Tzadik in 2006, along with Crossing the River, and Topography of the Lungs on his own PSI imprint. 2007 was equally prolific with three albums on three different labels including A Glancing Blow on Cleanfeed; the label also issued Belle Ville in 2008. Parker self-released Free Zone Appleby 2007 on PSI to round the year out. He made his debut on the Smalltown Superjazz imprint with Brewery Tap in 2009, as well as A Moment’s Energy with his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble on ECM and his Tzadik follow-up, House Full of Floors, a trio recording with John Edwards on bass and John Russell on acoustic guitar, and help from Aleks Kolkowski on a couple of tracks utilizing a wax cylinder recorder, and playing the saw.

Among the numerous albums that featured Parker's name as a leader of co-leader in 2010, Two Chapters and an Epilogue with pianist John Tilbury was especially noteworthy, as were Twine with saxophonist Urs Leimgruber and Scenes in the House of Music, with Barry Guy, Lytton, and Peter Evans. In 2011, he appeared as part of a quartet with Mark Nauseef, Ikue Mori, and Bill Laswell on Near Nadir for Tzadik. Meetings with Remarkakble Saxophonists, Vol. 1 with John Edwards and Eddie Prévost was released on Matchless in the spring of 2012, followed by two Psi recordings: Hasselt with the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, and a reissue of The Topography of the Lungs from 2006. In 2013, the concert recording Live at Maya Recordings Festival with the Guy/Lytton Trio was issued on Lithuania's NoBusiness label, followed by What/If/They Both Could Fly, a duet album with Joe McPhee on Rune Grammophon.

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eMusic Features


Label Profile: Clean Feed Records

By Peter Margasak, Contributor

File under: Free jazz, post-bop, improvisation Flagship acts: Ken Vandermark, Marty Ehrlich, Nate Wooley, Gerry Hemingway, Evan Parker, Paal Nilssen-Love Based in: Lisbon, Portugal Like most record labels, the Lisbon jazz imprint Clean Feed Records began modestly when it opened in 2001. The label was, and remains, part of a larger operation founded by Pedro Costa and his brother Carlos, both veterans of Portugal's record business. They started Trem Azul (Portuguese for Blue Train, like the famous John… more »


The Rise and Fall of Lucky Thompson

By Kevin Whitehead, Contributor

A few years ago, Italian saxophonist Daniele D'Agaro was visiting Chicago, and a critic friend put on a fairly obscure record to stump him. D'Agaro listened for about three seconds, said: "Lucky." Good ears. He knows the distinctive sound of Lucky Thompson after he started hanging out in Paris and playing sumptuous tenor saxophone ballads recalling old idol Don Byas's Parisian sides. On "Solitude" and "We'll Be Together Again," from Lucky in Paris 1959, his tenor's… more »


Chris McGregor: Cape Town to Free Town

By Kevin Whitehead, Contributor

It wasn't easy, being the interracial Blue Notes in 1963 apartheid South Africa: a black horns-and-rhythm combo with a white pianist/music director, Chris McGregor. They skipped out of Cape Town the following year: went to a French festival and didn't return. In London by '65, the quintet's members were welcomed by forward-looking jazz musicians: Steve Lacy drafted bassist Johnny Dyani and drummer Louis Moholo for the album The Forest and the Zoo, and an ill-fated… more »