Evan Parker

"If you've ever been tempted by free improvisation, Parker is your gateway drug." - Stewart Lee 

Evan Parker has been a consistently innovative presence in British free music since the 1960s. Parker played with John Stevens in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, experimenting with new kinds of group improvisation and held a long-standing partnership with guitarist Derek Bailey. The two formed the Music Improvisation Company and later Incus Records. He also has tight associations with European free improvisations - playing on Peter Brötzmann's legendary 'Machine Gun' session (1968), with Alexander Von Schlippenbach and Paul Lovens (A trio that continues to this day), Globe Unity Orchestra, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, and Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO). 

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. 

Featured releases

Live recording of the debut London performance for the duo of Limpe Fuchs and Evan Parker - two giants of avant garde music. Having met at Fort Process Festival in 2016 and seen each other perform solo in a tiny underground bunker, the two then paired up for a couple of duo concerts - one at OTO, and one in Brighton for Lost Property Arts Collective. Fuchs brings her unique menagerie of sounds to the space - variable wood and stone blocks (marble and serpentinite sourced from Sondrio in Upper Italy), ringing bronze pendulum strings and a variety of skin and bronze drums sound out alongside her own voice and a two toned harmonic violin. Fuch's huge set up, spread out across the stage area and unique to each performance, means the music to develops through movement - as each instrument is played, another is left in silence.  Their duo evolves in phases, navigated by Fuch's movement around the room, and Parker's intuitive  finding of endings, of pauses and of ways to engage with Fuch's personal rhythms is perfect. Surely the beginning of a regular duo? We hope so.  --- Limpe Fuchs / percussion, vocals, violin Evan Parker / saxophone --- Tracklisting: 1. Set 1 - 28:58 2. Set 2 - 20:13 3. Set 3 - 16:02 --- Recorded liveat Cafe OTO by James Dunn on Monday 28th May 2017. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Artwork by Oli Barrett - original photograph by Edith Stocker. 

Limpe Fuchs & Evan Parker – 28.5.17

Complete audio recordings of Evan Parker, John Edwards and Eddie Prévost's May 2013 residency at Cafe OTO.  --- Evan Parker / tenor saxophone John Edwards / double bass Edwin (Eddie) Prévost / drums Alexander von Schlippenbach / piano Christof Thewes / trombone --- "Given the different line-ups and the inclusion of both sets from each of three nights, the listener is presented with the chance to hear the music exposed and developing in many dimensions. Not only can each player be heard by himself and in shifting combinations - duet, trio or quartet - with the others, but the progression in mood and approach across an entire evening can be clearly appreciated. This is particularly marked on the second disc, where the careful exploration of the first set is succeded by the all-in surge of the second, which begins as if the four are resuming an interruped conversation. From the first night to the last, the music played over these three nights is of the highest quality. What can't be captured in the discs, but should never be underestimated, is the presence of listeners whose attentiveness cleared and charged the space in which the performers could do their work of creating a music as delicate in its inner workings as it is robust in its insistance on building for itself, night after night, a world without walls." - Richard Williams. --- Audio recorded by Giovanni LaRovere. Mastered by Rupert Clervaux. 

3 Nights at Cafe OTO

Diverse musical elements - coruscating cymbal scrapes, shimmering amplifier hum, melancholy saxophone circlings, sharp hits of snare, string and reed, slow motion guitar riffs, deep tam-tam surges and floor tom rasps, hypnotic prepared piano figures, and hovering fragments of song-like melodies - fracture and coalesce in this single intense improvisation. Featuring two of the foundational figures of free improvisation alongside a younger arrival, this recording captures the first meeting of this trio. They had all played together before separately, and the combination of familiarity and unfamiliarity proved productive: there's plenty of divergence and convergence here, and plenty of tension too - most interestingly, perhaps, in their differing approaches to repetition and tonality. At times coming uncomfortably close to each other, at times standing far apart, the trio moves inexorably towards a beautiful - and, in its simplicity, startling - conclusion. " . . . everything here is circular. While the musicians are often playing continuously they only enter the foreground at distinct and isolated moments, as if circling through patterns in which they sometimes move into temporal zones indicating high volume. That sense of a score (or scroll or star map) is strong here. Parker employs circular breathing, initially for brief passages, later at greater length, reiterating short scalar phrases. The phrases are varied, first incrementally and then expansively, multiplying through overtones. There’s a sense that certain sounds – the tenor phrases, a particularly abrasive cymbal scrape – are being looped, entering at irregular intervals, sometimes triggered by one another, creating a sense of ongoing structure that’s further magnified by Coxon’s drones, occasional squiggly guitar figures and subtle references to blues. It’s subtle, continuous work." - Stuart Broomer, Point of Departure "Something is going on here but we do not really know what. Coxon, who is a very unusual guitarist, can make his instrument sound like a toy clock or the zither in “The Third Man”, together with Parker’s elaborate sax techniques and Prévost’s almost unbearable high-pitched bowed sounds these sound splinters create an uncomfortable world, as if a man was on the run, afraid of something horrible." - Free Jazz Collective --- John Coxon / guitar Eddie Prévost / percussion Evan Parker / saxophone --- Recorded by Tom Bugs live at The Cube, Bristol on 8 March 2008. Mixed by Rick Campion at City University Music Studios Mastered by Rupert Clervaux at Gray's Inn Road. Many thanks to Mark & Chiz (Qu Junktions) and all at The Cube. Artwork by James Vickery. Music by John Coxon, Evan Parker and Eddie Prévost

John Coxon, Eddie Prévost & Evan Parker – Cinema

Forthcoming events

Sunday 4 September 2022

dj sniff (solo) + dj sniff / Evan Parker (duo)

£14 £12 Advance £7 MEMBERS

Past events