Evan Parker/John Edwards/Steve Noble: PEN CD

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. Dropa Disc #004 Evan Parker – John Edwards – Steve Noble: PEN is the first release of this trio ever, fitting perfectly next to the best works in these stellar musicians ever expanding discography.

Evan Parker: Tenor saxophone
John Edwards: Double bass
Steve Noble: Drums & Percussion
Recorded by Michael Huon at the Oorstof concert series, Zuiderpershuis, Antwerp 24 January 2015
Edited & Mixed by Michael Huon and Koen Vandenhoudt at Odeon 120, Brussels 2016
Mastered by Michael Huon at Odeon 120, Brussels 2016
Live concert produced by Sound in Motion
Produced by Koen Vandenhoudt
Executive Producers: Koen Vandenhoudt & Christel Kumpen
Cover Design & Layout: Pascal Cools

First release for the stellar trio Evan Parker, John Edwards & Steve Noble.
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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 soulfulperformance, 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.