Reviews that mention Evan Parker

October 11, 2017

Joëlle Léandre

A Woman’s Work…
NotTwo MW950-2

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp

The Art of Perelman-Shipp

Leo Records CD LR 794-799 and 786

Something in the Air: Music Appreciation as a Single Serving or Throughout Several Meals

By Ken Waxman

Marketing considerations aside, how best can a musician mark an important milestone or significant creativity? With recorded music the result is usually multiple discs. In honor of French bassist Joëlle Léandre’s recent 60th birthday for instance, there’s A Woman’s Work … (NotTwo MW950-2), an eight-disc boxed set. Almost six hours of music, the 42 tracks were recorded between 2006 and 2016 with one solo disc and the others intense interaction with such associates as trumpeter Jean-Luc Cappozzo, tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, violist Mat Maneri, guitarist Fred Frith, percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, pianists Agustí Fernández or Irène Schweizer and vocalists Lauren Newton or Maggie Nicols. With improvisers from six different countries working alongside, the bassist’s charm, humor, vigor and adaptability are highlighted. MORE

September 3, 2017

Konvoj Ensemble

Mira
Konvoj Records KOR 008

Parker & RGG

Live@Alchemia

Fundacja Słuchaj FSR 01

At this point, a half-century into his professional career, there’s very little British saxophonist Evan Parker hasn’t done musically. Yet like the golden-ager who decides to learn to fly a plane, Parker, 72, is open to new challenges and situations. The saxophonist, who has been a constant presence in Continental bands since his twenties lends his expertise and flair to two Northern European ensembles. . MORE

September 3, 2017

Parker & RGG

Live@Alchemia
Fundacja Słuchaj FSR 01

Konvoj Ensemble

Mira

Konvoj Records KOR 008

At this point, a half-century into his professional career, there’s very little British saxophonist Evan Parker hasn’t done musically. Yet like the golden-ager who decides to learn to fly a plane, Parker, 72, is open to new challenges and situations. The saxophonist, who has been a constant presence in Continental bands since his twenties lends his expertise and flair to two Northern European ensembles. . MORE

August 4, 2017

Parker/Trzaska/Edwards/Sanders

City Fall
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 04 2CD

How do you improve on quality? Very simply by adding another element that is so accomplished in itself that it raises the achievement to a superior level. Although this could be the focus of an epistemological discussion, it’s precisely what happened when Gdańsk-based alto saxophonist/bass clarinetist Mikołaj Trzaska joined tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders for this two-CD record of a live London gig. Parker who has had more playing partners then the House of Saud has royal descendents has been working on and off with the bassist and drummer since the early 1990s. Meanwhile the Polish multi-reedist has come to the fore in international aggregation alongside Americans such as tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Vandermark and drummer/percussionist Tim Daisy. MORE

July 13, 2017

Evan Parker

As the Wind (2012)
psi 16.01

Fraanje/Soniano/Gouband

Shades of Blue

Astropi 1501

A sophisticated throw back, when French improviser Toma Gouband performs, he’s often expanding on the genesis of percussion. He doesn’t climb into his figurative wayback machine to build on the developments of earlier jazzers such as Baby Dodds and Gene Krupa however. He goes further back than that. The idiophones he employs are mostly a collection of stones and rocks. Like a chemist who concocts a compound that mimics the properties of a certain nostrum though, his dexterity with sticks and stones is such that harmonies and melodies are present as well as rhythms. MORE

April 6, 2017

Spontaneous Music Ensemble

Withdrawal (1966/7)
Emanem 5040

Barry Guy

The Blue Shroud

Intakt CD 266

By Ken Waxman

Organization and innovation are the concepts most closely associated with British bassist Barry Guy. A classically trained musician, he early on established himself as a masterful soloist in groups led by pianist Howard Riley and others. By his mid-twenties however, Guy, who turns 70 this month, had made in music the same sort of transcendental leap Woody Allen effected in film by demonstrating memorable skills as director as well as actor. Guy’s founding of and compositions for the London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra in 1972 demonstrated that precise notation and free-form improvisation could coexist. From then on, like a hyperactive Jekyll and Hyde, the bassist has enthusiastically directed and played with large ensemble while utilizing his string prowess in a dizzying number of smaller bands. MORE

February 23, 2017

Schlippenbach Trio

Warsaw Concert
Intakt CD 275

Magimc

Area Sismica

Setola di Maiale SM 2920

An unconventional if accepted configuration at least since the Swing Era and most dazzlingly used by Cecil Taylor in the 1960s, the saxophone-piano-drums trio provides the proper balance of melody, rhythm and enrichment for a fulfilling recital. They’re like contemporary autos which attach contemporary upgrades to the standards that made the vehicle acceptable in the first place.

Both captured in concert, these trios bring individual concepts to this particular line up. Arguably the longest-lasting group in Free Music, the Schlippenbach Trio of British tenor saxophone Evan Parker, and two Germans, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and drummer Paul Lovens, has been constituted in this fashion since 1972. Having experimented with composition and improvisations of many lengths – and adding the occasional bass player – the trio’s Warsaw Concert is almost 52-minutes of telepathic creation, where like a legitimate clairvoyant each player senses what the other(s) will play next and reacts accordingly. Because this is improvised music, of course, neither the solo thrusts nor the group calculations are rote or expected. Moving south and west, Area Sismica was recorded in the eponymous cultural centre of Forli, Italy by an occasional ensemble which had previously recorded a couple of CDs, not the Schlippenbach Trio’s two dozen or so. The ratio of English speakers to non-Anglos is maintained however as American pianist Thollem McDonas and two Italians: tenor and sopranino saxophonist Edoardo Marraffa and percussionist Stefano Giust collaborate. Although a generation younger, like pilgrims along the same path, the three have played with almost as many international musicians as the members of the Schlippenbach trio. MORE

November 11, 2016

Mopomoso Tour 2013

Making Rooms
Weekertoft 1-4

Barry Guy Blue Shroud Band Small Formations

Tensegrity

NotTwo MW938-2

Mats Gustafsson’ Peace & Fire

At Porgy & Bess

Trost Records TR 140

Keith Rowe/John Tilbury

enough still not to know

SOFA 548

Something In The Air: Multi-Disc Box Sets Offer Depth As Well As Quantity

By Ken Waxman

When a CD box of improvised music appears it customarily marks a critical occasion. So it is with these recent four-disc sets. One celebrates an anniversary tour by nine of London’s most accomplished improvisers. Another collects small group interactions in Krakow by musicians gathered to perform as an orchestra. A third is a souvenir of concerts celebrating Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson’s 50th birthday. Finally enough still not to know captures extended improvisations by pianist John Tilbury and table-top guitarist Keith Rowe, who have worked with one another on-and-off for 40 years. MORE

July 16, 2016

Sant’Anna Quintet

Filu ‘e Ferru
MBR SA Jazz No #

Alexander Hawkins/Evan Parker

Leaps in Leicester

Clean Feed CF 362 CD

Perhaps more than any similar aggregation of players, it’s evident that London-based Free Music practitioner are more open to cross-generational fraternization that those in other countries. Of course like those who see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a children’s story and those who read hallucinogenic experiences into it, there may be differing reasons for this phenomenon. From its earliest days, with drummer John Stevens and guitarist Derek Bailey, the British music’s elders have frequently cast themselves in pedagogical roles. Conversely there may appear to be so much cross-generational collaboration in the United Kingdom, because with their mania for classification only the British would be dead set on ascribing players to one generation or another. MORE

July 16, 2016

Alexander Hawkins/Evan Parker

Leaps in Leicester
Clean Feed CF 362 CD

Sant’Anna Quintet

Filu ‘e Ferru

MBR SA Jazz No #

Perhaps more than any similar aggregation of players, it’s evident that London-based Free Music practitioner are more open to cross-generational fraternization that those in other countries. Of course like those who see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a children’s story and those who read hallucinogenic experiences into it, there may be differing reasons for this phenomenon. From its earliest days, with drummer John Stevens and guitarist Derek Bailey, the British music’s elders have frequently cast themselves in pedagogical roles. Conversely there may appear to be so much cross-generational collaboration in the United Kingdom, because with their mania for classification only the British would be dead set on ascribing players to one generation or another. MORE

March 22, 2016

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 16-20, 2015

By Ken Waxman

Story telling of the verbal and instrumental variety was an important feature of this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival. Trying out new venues such as Heritage Hall (HH), Guelph’s first black church; and the soft-seated Guelph Little Theatre (GLT), the festival added a feeling of intimacy to its innovative programming.

Front and centre with tales, tall and otherwise were two Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) members, multi-reedist Douglas Ewart and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts. Confirming the old adage that actions can speak louder than words were musicians as cerebrally intricate as Evan Parker’s soprano saxophone forays or as raucous as guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio. MORE

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

January 6, 2016

On The Cover

Rova: Still Creative After All These Years
By Ken Waxman

Someone once described Rova as the Grateful Dead of Jazz. A comparison to the Rolling Stones would be more accurate. For more than 38 years, with only one change in personnel 27 years ago, the Bay area-based saxophone quartet has created high quality music. However unlike the venerable British rockers whose music hasn’t been cutting edge for decades, Rova continues to evolve and experiment.

Case in point: this month’s series of NYC concerts. From the 19th to the 24th, the band’s residency at The Stone offers a retrospective of classic Rova material as well as new works. Some sets will feature Rova and guest musicians, some of whom have never played with the band before. Before that, on January 17th at Le Poisson Rouge, an expanded Rove ensemble will perform Electric Ascension, a 21st Century re-imagining of John Coltrane’s classic work. Concurrently, RogueArt will release Channeling Coltrane, containing a live performance of Electric Ascension from the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival on DVD and Blue-ray; a CD of the music itself; plus Cleaning the Mirror, a documentary that mixes the story of Rova’s Ascension adaptation with a history of the creation of Coltrane’s seminal session. MORE

January 1, 2016

NPR’s 10th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot
2015

Ken Waxman (The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)

NEW RELEASES

  1. Roscoe Mitchell, Celebrating Fred Anderson (Nessa)
  2. Daniel Carter-William Parker-Federico Ughi, Navajo Sunrise (Rudi)
  3. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Rafal Mazur, Unknowable (Not Two)
  4. Anna Webber, Refraction (Pirouet)
  5. Tim Berne, You've Been Watching Me (ECM)
  6. Evan Parker, Seven (Victo)
  7. Samuel Blaser, Spring Rain (Whirlwind)
  8. Akira Sakata-Giovanni Di Domenico-John Edwards-Steve Noble, Live at Cafe Oto (Clamshell)
  9. James Falzone & the Renga Ensemble, The Room Is (Allos Documents)
  10. George Freeman & Chico Freeman, All in the Family (Southport)
MORE

December 16, 2015

Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Possible Universe
NBR SA Jazz 014

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ichigo Ichie

Libra Records 212 037

Circum Grand Orchestra

12

Circum-Disc CD 1401

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Dobialabel

Bertrand Denzler/Onceim

Morph

Confront ccs 37

Something In The Air: Big Bands Redux

By Ken Waxman

Although most people associate big bands with the Swing Era dances and later, jazzier, manifestations such as Nimmons’n’Nine and The Boss Brass, despite the dearth of venues and difficulties of keeping even a combo working steadily, musicians persist in utilizing large ensembles. Like muralists who prefer the magnitude of a large canvas, composers, arrangers and players appreciate the colours and breath available using numerous, well-balanced instruments. MORE

November 11, 2015

Beyond Jazz: plink, plonk & scratch; the golden age of free music in London 1966-1972

By Trevor Barre
Compass Press

Out of Nowhere, The Uniquely Elusive Jazz of Mike Taylor

By Luca Ferrara

Gonzo Multimedia

By Ken Waxman

A succinct, personal, opinioned and ultimately insightful volume about the so-called First Generation of British Free Musicians, Beyond Jazz is first-time author Trevor Barre’s crisply-written, well-informed overview of the scene during those crucial seven years. A little too young and living elsewhere in the U.K., to have participated in most of the seminal London-based performances of that era, Barre’s turned to contemporary journalism, some academic studies and most importantly correspondence with 21 Free Music mover and shakers to fill out the story. Out Of Nowhere, the Uniquely Elusive Jazz of Mike Taylor is an exhaustive near hagiography tracing the brief career of a British pianist whose career began and ended in the 1960s and whose particular music and short life characterized all that was good and bad about the improvised and overall music scene during that representative decade. MORE

October 6, 2015

John Russell

With
Emanem 5037

By Ken Waxman

As the musicians of the so-called second generation of British improvisers move into their seventh decade, many celebratory concerts are marking their undiminished skills. One of the best, preserved on this 78-minute disc, took place last December as 60th birthday boy guitarist John Russell playing four sets with six improvisers. The result confirms the adage that Free Music keeps you young.

Measuring all four, the two shorter meetings are like extended bagatelles. On “The Second Half of the First Half” Russell matches wits with his contemporary, sound-singer Phi Minton, who has never found a noise he couldn’t duplicate. As Minton bellows, burbles, moans, whistles and hiccups, the guitarist’s folksy picking is perfect accompaniment for a bawdy verbal Punch & Judy show with the singer taking all the parts. “The Second Half of the Second Half” signals a rare return to the electric guitar for Russell to battle the psyched out, dial-twisting distortions from Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore. Propelling electronic shrieks, flanges and trebly rebounds likely not heard since Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck worked together, Russell rocks out while keeping the duet chromatic and with unexpected aleatory highlights. MORE

October 1, 2015

Festival Report

Météo
By Ken Waxman

Multi-media, theatricalism and electronics were the motifs that kept cropping up during the Météo Festival (August 25-29) in this Alsatian city known for its textile industry and unique German-French flair. There were also plenty of intense improvisations in its venues, confirming the continued strength of the 33-year-old festival.

Artistic mixing was most prominent during Météo’s opening concert in the Italianate 19th Century Théâtre de la Sinne as the French Surnatural Orchestra interacted with a screening of Italian director Dario D’Aregento’s 1975 slasher film Profondo Rosso. Unlike most music-with-cinema programs where live playing is subordinated to the visuals, this bloody over-the-top Hitchcock-Goddard-Fellini pastiche was frozen at various junctures for limber solos by a dancer, a speaker’s pseudo-pretentious film analysis, a scream from the stalls, cabaret style singing and a Second Line march through the audience. Still, no sonic moments stood out, and the exercise could be liked to someone decked out in full Carnaby Street fashion surmounting the outfit with a Viking helmet. MORE

September 6, 2015

Fred Frith/Evan Parker

Hello, I Must Be Going
Victo cd 128

Mary Halvorson Trio

Ghost Loop

ForTune 0010/010

Ingrid Laubrock Anti House

Roulette of the Cradle

Intakt CD 252

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

After All Is Said

482 Music 482-1089

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Room

From The Region

Delmark DE 5017

Something In The Air: Many musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

As the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) settles into maturity, dependable musical choices and the vagaries of touring means that a few of the performers at this year’s bash, September 16 to 20, are featured at more than one ensemble. The happy end result is that the audience gets to sample some musicians’ skills in more than one challenging setting. MORE

June 11, 2015

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet

Seven
Victo 127

Parker/Dunmall/Bianco

Extremes

Red Toucan RT 9349

Harris Eisenstadt

Golden State II

Songlines SGL 1610-2

Anthony Braxton

Trio and Duet

Sackville (Delmark) SK3007

EarNear

EarNear

TourdeBras TDB90012 CD

Something In The Air: Canadian Exposure for Out-of-the-Country Out-of-the-Ordinary Improvisers

By Ken Waxman

Just as international improvisers sometimes find a more welcoming atmosphere for their sound experiments in Canada than at home, so too have Canadian record labels become a vehicle to release notable free music sessions. Attesting to this openness, two of the most recent discs by British saxophone master Evan Parker are on Canadian imprints. But each arrived by a different route. One of the triumphs of 2014’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Quebec, this performance of Seven by Parker’s ElectroAcoustic Septet (Victo 127) are available on Victo, FIMAV’s affiliated imprint. Consisting of one massive and one shorter instant composition, Seven literally delineates the electro-acoustic divide. Trumpeter Peter Evans, reedist Ned Rothenberg, cellist Okkyung Lee and Parker make up the acoustic side, while varied laptop processes are operated by Ikue Mori and Sam Pluta, with George Lewis switching between laptop and trombone, with his huffing brass tone making a particular impression during a contrapuntal faced-off with Parker’s soprano saxophone during Seven-2. At nearly 46 minutes, “Seven-1” is the defining work, attaining several musical crests during its ghostly, meandering near time-suspension, Allowing for full expression of instrumental virtuosity, dynamic flutters, flanges and processes from the laptoppists accompany, comment upon or challenge the acoustic instruments. Alternately wave forms loops and echoes cause the instrumentalists to forge their reposes. Plenty of sonic surprises arise during the sequences. Undefined processed-sounding bee-buzzing motifs for example are revealed as mouth and lip modulations from Evans’ piccolo trumpet or aviary trills from Rothenberg’s clarinet. In contrast the electronics’ crackles and static are often boosted into mellower affiliations that sound purely acoustic. Eventually both aspects meld into a climax of bubbly consistency with any background-foreground, electro or acoustic displays satisfactorily melded. More percussive “Seven-2” has a climax involving fragmented electronics pulsating steadily as first Evans, then Rothenberg and finally Parker spill out timbres that confirm formalism as much as freedom. MORE

June 11, 2015

Parker/Dunmall/Bianco

Extremes
Red Toucan RT 9349

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet

Seven

Victo 127

Harris Eisenstadt

Golden State II

Songlines SGL 1610-2

Anthony Braxton

Trio and Duet

Sackville (Delmark) SK3007

EarNear

EarNear

TourdeBras TDB90012 CD

Something In The Air: Canadian Exposure for Out-of-the-Country Out-of-the-Ordinary Improvisers

By Ken Waxman

Just as international improvisers sometimes find a more welcoming atmosphere for their sound experiments in Canada than at home, so too have Canadian record labels become a vehicle to release notable free music sessions. Attesting to this openness, two of the most recent discs by British saxophone master Evan Parker are on Canadian imprints. But each arrived by a different route. One of the triumphs of 2014’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Quebec, this performance of Seven by Parker’s ElectroAcoustic Septet (Victo 127) are available on Victo, FIMAV’s affiliated imprint. Consisting of one massive and one shorter instant composition, Seven literally delineates the electro-acoustic divide. Trumpeter Peter Evans, reedist Ned Rothenberg, cellist Okkyung Lee and Parker make up the acoustic side, while varied laptop processes are operated by Ikue Mori and Sam Pluta, with George Lewis switching between laptop and trombone, with his huffing brass tone making a particular impression during a contrapuntal faced-off with Parker’s soprano saxophone during Seven-2. At nearly 46 minutes, “Seven-1” is the defining work, attaining several musical crests during its ghostly, meandering near time-suspension, Allowing for full expression of instrumental virtuosity, dynamic flutters, flanges and processes from the laptoppists accompany, comment upon or challenge the acoustic instruments. Alternately wave forms loops and echoes cause the instrumentalists to forge their reposes. Plenty of sonic surprises arise during the sequences. Undefined processed-sounding bee-buzzing motifs for example are revealed as mouth and lip modulations from Evans’ piccolo trumpet or aviary trills from Rothenberg’s clarinet. In contrast the electronics’ crackles and static are often boosted into mellower affiliations that sound purely acoustic. Eventually both aspects meld into a climax of bubbly consistency with any background-foreground, electro or acoustic displays satisfactorily melded. More percussive “Seven-2” has a climax involving fragmented electronics pulsating steadily as first Evans, then Rothenberg and finally Parker spill out timbres that confirm formalism as much as freedom. MORE

February 1, 2015

Derek Bailey/Joëlle Léandre/George Lewis/Evan Parker

Dunois 1982
Fou Records FR-CD 06

Frank Lowe Quartet

Out Loud

Triple Point Records TPR 209

Don Pullen

Richard’s Tune

Delmark/Sackville CD2-3008

Steve Lacy

Cycles (1976-80)

Emanem 5205

Ted Daniel’s Energy Module

Energy Module

NoBusiness Records NBCD 72/73

Something In The Air: Revolutionary Records Redux

By Ken Waxman

About 40 years on, so-called Free Jazz and Free Music from the late sixties, seventies and early eighties, doesn’t sound so revolutionary any more. The idea of improvising without chord structures or fixed rhythm has gradually seeped into most players’ consciousness, with the genre(s) now accepted as particular methods for improvisation along with Bop, Dixieland and Fusion. Historical perspective also means that many sessions originally recorded during that period are now being released. Some are reissues, usually with additional music added; others are newly unearthed tapes being issued for the first time. The best discs offer up formerly experimental sounds whose outstanding musicianship is more of a lure than nostalgia. MORE

July 11, 2014

Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath

Procession (Live at Toulouse)
Ogun OGCD 40

By Ken Waxman

The best jazz is often created through the synthesis of conflicting, sometime clashing musical impulses. So it was with the work of South African pianist Chris McGregor (1936-1990), whose all-star Blue Notes band of the ‘60s combined hard bop and (South) African musical influences. McGregor’s references multiplied during his European expatriate years when he created the Brotherhood of Breath (BOB) big band. On these live late ‘70s performances, sinuous kwela melodies and bop’s breakneck speed are part of the band’s disciplined Basie-like swing, yet at the same time sound extensions introduced by affiliated European free players have become more apparent in the writing and playing. MORE

June 25, 2014

Barry Guy New Orchestra

Amphi, Radio Rondo
Intakt CD 235

Danielle Palardy Roger

Le Caillou

Ambiances Magnetiques AM 215 CD

Modern Art Orchestra Plays the Music of Kristóf Bascó

Circular

BMC CD 204

Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit

First Blow

PNL Records PNL 021

Graham Collier

Luminosity-The Last Suites

Jazzcontinuum GCM 2014

Something In The Air: Translating a Singular Vision to a Large Ensemble

By Ken Waxman
MORE

April 18, 2014

Evan Parker & Joe McPhee

What/If/They Both Could Fly
Rune Grammofon RCD 2149CD

Joe McPhee-Paal Nilssen-Love

Red Sky

PNL 016

Survival Unit III

Game Theory

NotTwo MW 907-2

Nearly 40 years after his first recording session there seems to be little that American multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, 74, can’t express on his saxophones or pocket trumpet. But the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based experimental musician keeps challenging himself in new situations. Each of the small group CDs here, recorded over a four year period, is excellent in its own way, and on each McPhee brings the proper horn(s) and mind set to create high quality improvisations. Additionally each is distinctive enough to set it apart from the others and confirm McPhee’s status as an original. MORE

February 26, 2014

Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp

Rex, Wrecks & XXX
RogueArt R0G-0050

Having already turned out an exceptional duo CD where he traded ideas with advanced British saxophonist John Butcher, American pianist Matthew Shipp ups the ante with a two-CD set featuring him and the protean force of BritImprov: tenor saxophonist Evan Parker. The two recorded previously on 2007’s Abbey Road Duos, with Parker playing both soprano and tenor saxophone, but here the London-based reedist sticks to the larger horn, and with twice as much space links one extended live and eight shorter studio improvisations. The results not only producer a rewarding program but also confirm the virtuosity and versatility of both players. MORE

December 8, 2013

Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath

Procession: Live At Toulouse
Ogun OGCD 39

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton

Live at Maya Recordings Festival

NoBusiness NBCD 55

Butcher/Buck/Mayas/Stangl

Plume

Unsounds 35u

Michel Doneda/Joris Rühl

Linge

Umlaut Records umfrcd 07

Lori Freedman & John Heward

On No On

Mode Avant 16

Matt Mitchell

Fiction

Pi Recordings PI50

Kidd Jordan & Hamid Drake
MORE

December 8, 2013

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton

Live at Maya Recordings Festival
NoBusiness NBCD 55

Butcher/Buck/Mayas/Stangl

Plume

Unsounds 35u

Michel Doneda/Joris Rühl

Linge

Umlaut Records umfrcd 07

Lori Freedman & John Heward

On No On

Mode Avant 16

Matt Mitchell

Fiction

Pi Recordings PI50

Kidd Jordan & Hamid Drake

A Night in November Live in New Orleans

Valid Records VR-1015

Paul Bley Trio

Closer
MORE

November 3, 2013

Arrivals/Departures-New Horizons in Jazz

Stuart Broomer, Brain Morton & Bill Shoemaker
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Book shelf: By Ken Waxman

Distinguished as much for its scholarship as the artful, mostly color photos and illustrations which make it an attractive souvenir, this 240-page volume is published by Lisbon’s annual Jazz em Agosto (JeA) Festival to mark its 30th anniversary of innovative programming. It says a lot about the individuals who program JeA that rather than commissioning a vainglorious run-down of the festival’s greatest hits, they turned to three respected jazz critics to profile 50 of the most important musicians, living or dead, who performed at the festival. MORE

July 20, 2013

Evan Parker Electrocacoustic Ensemble

Hasselt
psi 12.03

Continuing his rapprochement with electronic currents, British saxophonist Evan Parker has organized a 13-piece ensemble almost equally divided between acoustic and processing instruments. This disc is notable historically, showing how the philosophies of pure electronics and pure acoustics can intersect. Nonetheless the results aren’t too surprising, considering that the majority of players on both sides of the equation are comfortable in both milieus.

Pieced together from performances presented on different nights in concert in Hasselt, Belgium, the CD climaxes with a more-than-half-hour sequence featuring the entire group. However the trio of preceding selections matches players from both sides of the electro-acoustic divide – without Parker – for shorter instant compositions. “Hasselt 1” and “Hasselt 2” are most illustrative, as they aptly demonstrate how a commanding musical personality, pianist Augustí Fernández in the first case and bassist Barry Guy in the second, can dominate the proceedings despite the presence of potentially louder plugged-in instruments. For instance, the Catalan pianist’s high-frequency keyboard sweeps and tremolo string resonations from inside and outside his instrument on the first piece create a swiftly paced narrative that makes Walter Prati’s computer processing a junior improvising partner. In the same way, the subterranean textures from contrabass clarinetist Peter van Bergen and Guy’s double bass on “Hasselt 2” are more ruggedly commanding and percussively directed than the live electronics produced by the FURT duo of Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer. MORE

June 13, 2013

Mark Solberg Trio Feat. Herb Robertson & Evan Parker

The Trees
Ilk 199 CD

Herb Robertson/Dave Kaczorowski/Adrian Valosin

Party Enders

NotTwo MW 867-2

By Ken Waxman

New Jersey-born trumpeter Herb Robertson may be a prophet without honor in his own country; he’s more appreciated in Europe than the US. Overseas he works high-profile gigs as a member of Barry Guy’s New Orchestra (BGNO) and with other bands; in the US it’s usually small groups and small clubs. With a reverberating, powerful attack that can harmonize sympathetically with others’ timbres, it’s no surprise Robertson is busy in Europe. Both CDs here are on European imprints. MORE

April 6, 2013

Lest We Forget

Borah Bergman (1926 or 1933-2012)
By Ken Waxman

For someone who didn’t even record until he was in his forties, Borah Bergman’s prodigious talent soon marked him as one of jazz’s most skillful experimental pianist, a reputation he maintained until his death on October 18 last year.

An enigmatic figure, Brooklyn-born Bergman was either 79 or 86 when he died. He claimed he shaved seven years off his age in the biography for his first record date in 1975. That relatively mainstream disc on Chiaroscuro only hinted at his powers, which came to the fore during the subsequent decades in solo performances and as he partnered many of free jazz’s heavy hitters both in Europe and North America. MORE

March 20, 2013

John Coxon/Evan Parker/Eddie Prévost

Cinema
Fataka 1

Georg Graewe/Evan Parker

Dortmund Variations

Nuscope CD 1026

Rewarding meetings with old and new associates, these CDs demonstrate the intuitive tactics British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker adopts each time he improvises. One of his infrequent contacts with German pianist Georg Graewe, Dortmund Variations is an exploration of adversarial keyboard and reed techniques. In contrast Cinema is classic sound juxtaposition. Recorded in Bristol more than two years before the Dortmund set of 2010, it features Parker not only in the company of AMM percussionist Eddie Prévost, part of the same first generation of British improvisers as the reedist, but much younger John Coxon, playing electric guitar and prepared piano. One-half of the electronic duo Spring Heel Jack (SHJ), Coxon was fairly ubiquitous in Free Music circles then, releasing CDs where SHJ created a provocative variant of its own sounds mixed with live and sampled contributions from prominent Free players such as Parker. MORE

March 20, 2013

Georg Graewe/Evan Parker

Dortmund Variations
Nuscope CD 1026

John Coxon/Evan Parker/Eddie Prévost

Cinema

Fataka 1

Rewarding meetings with old and new associates, these CDs demonstrate the intuitive tactics British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker adopts each time he improvises. One of his infrequent contacts with German pianist Georg Graewe, Dortmund Variations is an exploration of adversarial keyboard and reed techniques. In contrast Cinema is classic sound juxtaposition. Recorded in Bristol more than two years before the Dortmund set of 2010, it features Parker not only in the company of AMM percussionist Eddie Prévost, part of the same first generation of British improvisers as the reedist, but much younger John Coxon, playing electric guitar and prepared piano. One-half of the electronic duo Spring Heel Jack (SHJ), Coxon was fairly ubiquitous in Free Music circles then, releasing CDs where SHJ created a provocative variant of its own sounds mixed with live and sampled contributions from prominent Free players such as Parker. MORE

January 6, 2013

Festival Report

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival 5
By Ken Waxman

Brawny and gritty, Glasgow, Scotland`s largest city has been a shipbuilding, trading and manufacturing powerhouse since the Industrial Revolution. At the same time the grey northern port has had a long-established aesthetic side, characterized by the often imitated Arts and Crafts movement designs and structures of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928).

This blend of power and passion was reflected November 29 to December 1 as the city’s 24-member Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (GIO) celebrated its 10th anniversary and 5th annual festival with performances at the city’s downtown Centre for Contemporary Art by the whole band and various subsets; other Scottish improvisers; and guests including inventive saxophonist Evan Parker, irrepressible vocalist Maggie Nicols and polymath George Lewis utilizing trombone and computer. MORE

January 1, 2013

Evan Parker & Agustí Fernández

Booklet notes for: The Voice is One
NotTwo Records MW 878-2

With improvised music dependent on in-the-moment factors and inspiration, it’s sobering to imagine that this masterful 2009 concert featuring British saxophonist Evan Parker and Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández was in fact a make-up date. Scheduled as part of the annual Festival de Jazz de Barcelona in November, the gig was actually rescheduled from the summer of 2008 when a sudden violent storm in the medieval Plaça Del Rei, necessitated cancellation after the sound check. “Everything was ready for the music: instruments, musicians, audience,” recalls Fernández, “but the weather had other ideas. There were rivers of water everywhere on the streets; we couldn’t walk.” MORE

November 6, 2012

Festival Report

Jazz Brugge 2012
By Ken Waxman

When a festival like Jazz Brugge 2012 takes place in a Belgium town, designated by UNESCO World Heritage for its picturesque canals and loving preserved medieval buildings, a certain amount of time and space dislocation can be expected. Considering that concerts (October 4 to 7) took place in the attic performance space of the 12th century Sint-Janshospitaal museum or in a massive or a smaller hall of the four-seating tier Concertgebouw, purpose built in 2002, this time-shifting continued. Additionally, three of the most insightful performances melded celebration of art from earlier century with perceptive improvisations. MORE

October 27, 2012

Evan Parker/Zlatko Kaučič

Round About One o’clock
NotTwo MW 863-2

Grutronic & Evan Parker

Together in Zero Space

psi 11.09

British saxophonist Evan Parker’s musical plasticity is such that it’s often difficult to imagine in what context he’ll next appear. A consummately sympathetic improviser as well as a bandleader, Parker’s soloing can be equally intrepid in electronic as acoustic settings, as these CDs demonstrate.

Playing partner on Round About One o’clock is percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, arguably Slovenia’s most accomplished and well-travelled improviser, having spent years outside the country playing with senior stylists such as saxophonist Steve Lacy and Peter Brötzmann. This live set from the 50th Ljubljana Jazz Festival, find the two celebrating the memory of pioneering British freebop saxophonist Mike Osborne (1941-2007), spelling out his nickname in the six selections’ titles. MORE

October 27, 2012

Grutronic & Evan Parker

Together in Zero Space
psi 11.09

Evan Parker/Zlatko Kaučič

Round About One o’clock

NotTwo MW 863-2

British saxophonist Evan Parker’s musical plasticity is such that it’s often difficult to imagine in what context he’ll next appear. A consummately sympathetic improviser as well as a bandleader, Parker’s soloing can be equally intrepid in electronic as acoustic settings, as these CDs demonstrate.

Playing partner on Round About One o’clock is percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, arguably Slovenia’s most accomplished and well-travelled improviser, having spent years outside the country playing with senior stylists such as saxophonist Steve Lacy and Peter Brötzmann. This live set from the 50th Ljubljana Jazz Festival, find the two celebrating the memory of pioneering British freebop saxophonist Mike Osborne (1941-2007), spelling out his nickname in the six selections’ titles. MORE

October 7, 2012

Lest We Forget

Willem Breuker (1944-2010)
By Ken Waxman

The blend of anarchism, precision and humor suggested by Willem Breuker Kollektief (WBK), the name of the ensemble the Dutch saxophonist/composer led for 36 years until his death from lung cancer on July 23, 2010, underlined the fascinating contradictions in his music. A collective has everyone on equal footing no matter how skilled, yet this Kollektief had Breuker as the undisputed boss of a group of first-class soloists. Furthermore the sly joke in this wordplay was also reflected in the WBK’s on-stage horseplay. Breuker not only ensured that the unmistakable modern jazz played included themes by notated composers such as Kurt Weill and George Gershwin, but also a large helping of physical and instrumental comedy that might culminate in the vocalizing of a ’20 ditty like “Yes We Have No Bananas”. MORE

October 2, 2012

Foxes Fox

Live at the Vortex
psi 12.01

He now may be 82 and be best known for the dreamier ballads he often plays with his own groups, but this set proves that trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler can hold his own in any invigorating Free Jazz session. Of course it helps that the Canadian-born, London-resident Wheeler showed up as a special guest with a quartet consisting of players he has worked with for years in different contexts.

A true all-star ensemble, Foxes Fox consists of tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Steve Beresford, bassist John Edwards and percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo. On their own the four exhibit the depth of their interaction in the more than 38½-minute “Foxes Set 1”. Characterized by unmistakable reed slurs from Parker, his wide vibrato and boisterous tone smears are meticulously set up by Beresford’s cascading glissandi and key clicks, Edwards’ pumps and side sawing runs and Moholo-Moholo’s rattling backbeat. MORE

September 1, 2012

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

Improcherto (for HB)
Iorram GN 82

Waving the Saltire for musical if not geographic liberation in the northern part of the United Kingdom is the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (GIO), which over the past decade has established itself as a potent force for free sounds. This CD finds the 18 piece ensemble – plus two ringers – exploring the concepts of graphic scores and conduction. Embracing the idea during an almost 40-minute sequence conceived of by GIO member and guitarist George Burt the ensemble wends its way through tricky section work and in the process honors the memory of Barbados-born Harry Beckett (1935-2010), a potent force in earlier British Jazz who straddled the divide between big band Jazz and Free Improvising – as does the GIO. MORE

July 11, 2012

Le GGRIL avec Evan Parker

Vivaces
Tour de Bras TDB9006 CD

The Royal Improvisers Orchestra

Live at the Bimhuis

Riot Impro 01

London Improvisers Orchestra

Lio Leo Leon

psi 11.04

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

ETO

Libra Records 215-029

Something in the Air: New Soloists for Improvising Ensembles

By Ken Waxman

Adding another voice to an established improvising ensemble is more precarious than it seems. With a group having worked out strategies allowing for individual expression within a larger context – and without notated cues – the visitor(s) must be original without unbalancing the interface. Luckily the sessions here demonstrate successful applications. MORE

June 5, 2012

Label Spotlight

Potlatch Records
By Ken Waxman

Performing music’s loss is recorded music’s gain since Paris-based Jacques Oger abandoned his gig as a saxophonist with the free music trio Axolotl in the mid-1980s. Turning to market research, communication and translations, by 1997 he had saved enough to found Potlatch which to date has released 35 high-quality CDs. Oger spent 10 years with Axolotl, during which the band recorded two LPs and gigged frequently. He stopped playing, he admits “because I thought I was not creative enough to keep on in that area of music.” He was creative enough though when he translated his love for experimental music into a record label. MORE

May 6, 2012

Label Spotlight:

Maya Recordings
By Ken Waxman

As much as anything else, the birth of Maya Recordings, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, was born from impatience. Swiss violinist Maya Homburger, who operates the boutique label with her husband, British bassist/composer Barry Guy, recalls that since at that time another label was slow in putting out Arcus, a recording by Guy and bassist Barre Phillips, they decided to do so themselves. By 2012 29 Maya CDs have been released, improvised as well as baroque music.

The two were already veteran musician when Maya was created. Zürich-born Homburger, for instance, has worked with ensembles such as Trio Virtuoso and Camerata Kilkenny; while London-born Guy is part of many free jazz aggregations and is the founder/artistic director of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LCJO). Maya was envisioned as a different sort of imprint, Homburger recalls. “We wanted to create a label where music, cover art and writing were all related and on the highest level. We wanted to have control over the look as well as the sound.” MORE

May 6, 2012

Evan Parker/Okkyung Lee/Peter Evans

The Bleeding Edge
psi 11.10

By Ken Waxman

Maintaining his connection with younger international improvisers, grizzled British saxophonist Evan Parker has convened this trio with Koran-American cellist Okkyung Lee and American trumpeter Peter Evans. A CD of 11 duos and trios, The Bleeding Edge confirms that there’s no generation gap among creative stylists; in fact there are episodes during which it’s impossible to source a particular texture.

Best-known as a member of the satiric freebop band, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Evans shows off experimental and atonal chops here, fluttering, spluttering and spitting tremolo and rubato sequences as well as unaccented air from his trumpet and piccolo trumpet. Lee, whose juddering percussive glissandi unite noise, improvisation and classical techniques; and who is as apt to be playing with vocalist/guitarist Carla Bozulich as pianist Jacques Demierre, keeps the action streaming with staccato, sul ponticello and spiccato motions. Parker, of course, has been a sound explorer since the mid-‘60s. MORE

April 6, 2012

Andrea Centazzo

The New York City Jazz Record Interview
By Ken Waxman

Founder in the late ‘70s of ICTUS, one of the first European artist-run labels that recorded free music, Italian-American percussionist, composer and multi-media artist Andrea Centazzo is celebrating the label 35th anniversary at The Stone this month. The festival showcases the many genres of experimental music Udine, Italy-born Centazzo, 64, has been involved with over the years. On hand will be many of his collaborators from the US and Italy. Centazzo’s musical scope is so large that some of his other musical ventures, such as composing for film, theatre and large non-jazz ensembles, could barely be mentioned in the conversation below. MORE

March 6, 2012

Festival Report:

“Might I Suggest”
By Ken Waxman

With characteristic British understatement, saxophonist Evan Parker’s curated “Might I Suggest” (MIS) festival celebrated its second birthday in late January uniting German and British improvisers at the second-floor Vortex club, located in London’s moderately gentrified Dalston district. Quality of the performances during the six evenings testified not only to the worth of Parker’s recommendations but also to their scope. With funding from the Goethe Institute, the performances ranged from Kurt Weill songs performed by vocalist Norma Winstone’s trio to the electronic processing utilized by bassist Adam Linson’s Systems Quartet; and from the intense expression of guitarist John Russell’s expanded British-German unit to the balanced arrangements Bavarian-born, London resident Hans Koller crafted for his Fun House Living (FHL) nonet. MORE

January 20, 2012

Rhapsody's 2011 Jazz Critics' Poll

Individual Ballot
From Ken Waxman

1) Your name and primary affiliation(s) (no more than two, please)

2) Ken Waxman

Jazz Word (www.jazzword.com )

3) Your choices for 2011's ten best new releases (albums released between Thanksgiving 2010 and Thanksgiving 2011, give or take), listed in descending order one-through-ten.

1. World Saxophone Quartet Yes We Can Jazzwerkstatt JW 098

2. Gerald Cleaver Uncle June Be It As I See It Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT-375

3. Hubbub Whobub Matchless MRCD 80 MORE

October 30, 2011

Evan Parker & Matthew Wright

Trance Map
psi 11.03

Adam Bohman & Adrian Northover

Custodians of the Realm

No Label No #

Methods of blending saxophone timbres within an electro-acoustic setting are highlighted in these virtuoso performances, demonstrating converse if equally valid approaches. The product of four studio visits and episodes of digital signal processing, Trance Map situates Evan Parker’s soprano saxophone playing plus synthesized samples within the sound designs of turntablist and electronics manipulator Matthew Wright. Conversely, while including overdubbed saxophone lines, Custodians of the Realm was captured in real time. It mates Adrian Northover’s soprano saxophone with resonations and intonations from the toys, objects and home-made strings of Adam Bohman. MORE

September 10, 2011

Rastascan

Label Spotlight
By Ken Waxman

“There was never a master plan, except to release music I enjoy and promote musicians I want to help”, says Bay area drummer Gino Robair when asked why he started Rastascan records in the early 1980s and has kept it going ever since.

Over the years the California imprint, named after the term “rasters” from television technology, has put out music on CD, LP, DVD and cassette, as downloads and even on flexi-disc, with sessions featuring artists ranging from Anthony Braxton and Evan Parker to lesser-known improvisers. “Unlike many labels that take a curatorial stance or try to ‘produce’ each record, I give the artists full control over the presentation of their work,” explains Robair. “They determine the look of the graphics, the order and choice of the music, the titles of the album and pieces. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about running a label; seeing and hearing the full artistic statement that the object represents”. MORE

July 17, 2011

Music Is Rapid Transportation

Edited by Daniel Kernohan
Charivari Press

Traveling the Spaceways

Sun Ra, the Astro Black and other Solar Myths Paper

Edited by John Corbett, Anthony Elms and Terri Kapsalis

White Walls/University of Chicago Press

To be informative and useful, books on music must be conceived of through a combination of enthusiasm and expertise. Too much of the former and the publication slides into salivating hagiography; too much of the later and it becomes a dry, pedagogical discourse. Luckily both these volumes avoid the obvious pitfalls, but there are times when extraneous or superfluous material affects both. MORE

June 5, 2011

Evan Parker/Wes Neal/Joe Sorbara

At Somewhere There
Barnyard Records BR0321

Without a hint of condescension, veteran British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker allies his skills with the talents of Torontonians bassist Wes Neal and drummer Joe Sorbara in this first-class essay in free improvisation. During the single track, recorded live at local performance space Somewhere There, rhythms, pitches and tones are mixed, matched, mulched and multiplied with a timbral blend that makes it seems as if the trio members have collaborated for years.

Balancing methodical plucks and brawny strums with a hint of sul tasto extensions, Neal marshals his strings to create an unremitting chromatic pulse. For his part, Sorbara pops, plucks, strikes and bounces rhythms on the sides and tops of his drums to tint and roughen the narrative. Delicate bell pings, rattling chains and, more frequently, the harsh application of a drum stick along a cymbal, mark transitions. MORE

April 8, 2011

FMP In Rückblick

In Retrospect 1969-2010
FMP CD 137 - FMP CD 148

Something in the Air: FMP`s 40th Anniversary

By Ken Waxman

Throughout jazz history, independent labels have typified sounds of the time. In the Swing era it was Commodore; Modern jazz was prominent on Blue Note and Prestige; and with Improvised Music, FMP is one of the longest lasting imprints. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Berlin-based label has given listeners a spectacular birthday present with FMP In Rückblick – In Retrospect 1969-2010,12 [!] CDs representing FMP’s past and future – the oldest from 1975, the newest, by American cellist Tristan Honsinger and German guitarist Olaf Rupp from 2010, half previously unissued – plus an LP-sized, 218-page book, lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs, posters, album covers and a discography. MORE

March 14, 2011

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl
Impro 2000

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka

Tokyo Kirarasha

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

March 14, 2011

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka
Tokyo Kirarasha

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl

Impro 2000

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

February 2, 2011

Schlippenbach Trio

Bauhaus Dessau
Intakt CD 183

Obviously comfortable in their own musical skins in an assemblage that has now been together longer than the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ), members of the Schlippenbach Trio are still very capable of finding fresh and innovative avenues of expression. This CD, recorded in a Walter Gropius-designed Bauhaus-style auditorium in Dessau, Germany, confirms this.

Perhaps the reason for the trio’s longevity – 40 years and counting – is that unlike the MJQ, it isn’t the members’ paramount means of expression. At the very least, with tenor saxophonist Evan Parker involved in his own trio and electro-acoustic ensemble; with pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach with solo work and Monk’s Casino; and with drummer Paul Lovens often working with French bassist Joëlle Léandre and many others; they have plenty to occupy their off-time. Plus with the saxophonist in London, the pianist in Berlin and the drummer residing in Nickelsdorf, Austria they don’t even cross paths that often. MORE

January 23, 2011

Uwe Oberg & Evan Parker

Full Bloom
Jazzwerkstatt JW 092

Michel Doneda/Taavi Kerikmäe

Kirme

Improtest Records IMPRTCD 03

Stretching free improvisations for the piano and saxophone to their limits are these CDs, which, audaciously enough are not only complexly spontaneously created but feature intergenerational and multi-national duos. Full Bloom is a first-time meeting between Wiesbaden, Germany-based pianist Uwe Oberg, 48, and British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, 66; while Kirme matches French soprano saxophonist Michel Doneda, 56, and Estonian pianist Taavi Kerikmäe, 34. Needless to say, age and nationality fall away when the duos become fully engrossed in improvising. MORE

January 18, 2011

Urs Leimgruber/Evan Parker

Twine
Clean Freed CF 194 CD

The International Nothing

Less Action, Less Excitement, Less Everything

Ftarri 219

Setting up some of the most difficult interface imaginable here – two unaccompanied reed duos – are two veteran improvisers and two younger players all of whom manage to extract panoramic timbres from their respective instruments. One common strategy is to avoid harmonic unison in favor of broken octaves or double counterpoint tropes. The side-by-side variants revealed are particularly fascinating when both musicians are play saxophones in one case, or clarinets in the other. MORE

November 29, 2010

Evan Parker

Whitstable Solo
psi 10.01

Steve Lacy

November

Intakt CD 171

Urs Leimgruber

Chicago Solo

Leo Records CD LR 570

At this late date there’s nothing particularly startling about solo saxophone sessions. What is remarkable about the reed essays here is how differently master improvisers approach the challenge.

American Steve Lacy (1934-2004), who arguably perfected the concept in the early 1970s, was wedded to the song form, as he demonstrates on November, one of his final solo recording. Briton Evan Parker, 65, who shortly after Lacy’s experiments brought the saxophone further into the realm of abstractions, multiphonics and tonal coloration, optimizes the spatial and resonate qualities of an older church on Whitstable Solo. Meanwhile Swiss Urs Leimgruber, 58, who studied with Lacy and has recorded with Parker, has likewise evolved his own variation on this reed investigation; more abstract than Lacy’s design, but less concerned with extended circular breathing than Parker’s initiative. MORE

July 23, 2010

Global Unity Arrives in Montreal

Suoni per il Popolo festival report
By Ken Waxman

A willingness to book profound improvisers ignored by the commercial pseudo-Jazz behemoth that takes places later in the summer is what sets Montreal’s annual Suoni per il Popolo (SPIP) apart from other local festivals. For its 10th anniversary in late June, SPIP scored a major coup with the Canadian premiere of the all-star Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) on the second of a three-night event.

Not only was the entire 11-piece ensemble featured for two sold-out shows at La Sala Rosa, a former social club on, St. Laurent Boulevard, the city’s storied Main, but on the first and third nights, the smaller Casa Del Popolo club, on the opposite side of the street was packed as it played host to three GUO break-out ensembles. All in all, the GUO put on an exceptional performance that confirmed the elevated regard in which the group has been held since it was organized by German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach in 1966. Notable as well were the two club sets on the final night by a trio made up of von Schlippenbach, German bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall and drummer Paul Lytton the subsequent night. However Casa Del Popolo performances by two differently constituted GUO ensembles the first night appeared more introductory than exemplary when, despite flashes of instrumental luminosity, an unconscionable raggedness seemed to permeate both sets. MORE

June 6, 2010

Festival Report:

Freedom of the City 2010
By Ken Waxman

“To Thine Self Be True” is lettered horizontally in careful script above the stage at Conway Hall in London’s Bloomsbury district, where London’s annual Freedom of the City (FOTC) festival took place May 2 and 3. Although related to the philosophy of the Ethical Society which built the edifice in 1929, the slogan can easily also be applied to five dozen or so improvisers featured at FOTC.

Organized about decade ago by saxophonist Evan Parker and AMM percussionist Eddie Prévost to showcase the city’s vibrant improvising scene, FOTC today welcomes as many tyros as veterans – and from the Continent and North America as well as the United Kingdom. Participants ranged from eccentric soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill, 77 and American trumpeter Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, 67, to young participants in Prévost’s weekly improv workshop and American brassman Peter Evans. MORE

May 17, 2010

Dave Liebman/Evan Parker/Tony Bianco

Relevance
Red Toucan #RT 9338

Dave Liebman Group

Turnaround: The Music of Ornette Coleman

Jazz Werkstatt JW 079

David Liebman Trio

Lieb Plays Weill

Daybreak-Challenge DBCHR75439

Three By Lieb:

By Ken Waxman

After more than three decades, saxophonist Dave Liebman is the epitome of the modern improviser whose work is constantly first-class, but rarely challenging. Two of these CDs alter those expectations, showing that his style can be extended. MORE

March 8, 2010

Marteau Rouge & Evan Parker

Live
in situ IS 242

Devoting more than 40 years to painstaking developing an individual style doesn’t mean that British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker eschews new challenges and collaborations. Live is notable however, because without altering his distinctive reed patterns, Parker manages to seamlessly match his contributions to those of Paris-based Marteau Rouge. And that’s without upsetting the perceptive strategies members of the trio have developed during their years together.

Consisting of guitarist Jean-François Pauvros, whose chiming runs and twanging licks often cleave the line between rock and improv, and given direction by the unflappable drummer Makoto Sato, with cymbal rasps and mercurial backbeats, this trio interaction is further cemented by the quivering sine waves from Jean-Marc Foussat’s synthesizer. MORE

March 3, 2010

Irène Schweizer/Barry Guy, London Jazz Composers Orchestra

Radio Rondo
Intakt CD 158

Sometimes the best intention – plus a collection of exceptionally talented musicians – still doesn’t guarantee a perfectly balanced performance. Both piano soloist Irène Schweizer and the London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO) discovered this during this live concert at the 2008 Schaffhauser Jazz Festival in Switzerland. While the 30-minute “Radio Rondo” was composed by LJCO leader Barry Guy as a special feature for the Swiss pianist, the subsequent performance was patchy, with unexpected sonic peaks and valleys often held together by sheer will. MORE

February 1, 2010

John Butcher Group

Somethingtobesaid
Weight of Wax WOW 02

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

The Moment’s Energy

ECM 2066

Now that a large portion of improvised music is deliberately moving further away from its swing-blues roots and into an accommodation with New music, a few far-sighted so-called classical festivals have made a place for improvisers. Tellingly, both these captivating CDs featuring ensembles performing large-scale compositions by significant British saxophonists, were commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. More importantly, neither work is a jazz-classical cameo, but expansive enough to allow the composers’ ideas to be figuratively painted on a larger canvas, using an extended sonic palate. MORE

February 1, 2010

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

The Moment’s Energy
ECM 2066

John Butcher Group

Somethingtobesaid

Weight of Wax WOW 02

Now that a large portion of improvised music is deliberately moving further away from its swing-blues roots and into an accommodation with New music, a few far-sighted so-called classical festivals have made a place for improvisers. Tellingly, both these captivating CDs featuring ensembles performing large-scale compositions by significant British saxophonists, were commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. More importantly, neither work is a jazz-classical cameo, but expansive enough to allow the composers’ ideas to be figuratively painted on a larger canvas, using an extended sonic palate. MORE

August 8, 2009

Evan Parker Transatlantic Art Ensemble

Boustrophedon
ECM 1873

A rare – and exceptional – foray into partially scored and conducted music for British saxophonist Evan Parker, this eight-part work for a 14-piece ensemble realizes its lofty goals because the composed sections are cleverly counterbalanced by the improvisations.

Boustrophedon – an ancient word describing a method of writing one line from left to right, the subsequent one from right to left and so on – reflects the CD’s parallel methodology as well. While Parker directs a seven-piece group of experienced European improvisers, American saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell does the same with seven, equally proficient, Americans. Much of the boustrophedon movement involves comparable exposure from matched instrumentalists such as the two bassists, two percussionists and two fiddlers. Meanwhile singular soloists like pianist Craig Taborn, cellist Marcio Mattos or flutist Neil Metcalfe cleanly negotiate the fissure between Eurocentric and American-inflected Free Music. Taborn, for instance, adds styled glissandi, tinkling portamento story-telling and formalistic note clusters to “Furrow 2”, but metronomic rhythmic chording to “Furrow 4”. MORE

August 8, 2009

Music Outside, Contemporary Jazz in Britain

By Ian Carr
Northway Publications

Hindsight may be 20/20, but this reprint of Ian Carr’s 1973 classic Music Outside, reveals that he beats the law of averages. However, anything written 36 years ago resonates with the attitudes of the time. Some musicians who seemed significant then are more the province of nostalgia than admiration; others mentioned briefly are major figures.

Parenthetically that sense of being of one’s time makes Roger Cotterell’s contemporary postscript frustrating. While he does tie up loose ends and outlines the subsequent career of some musicians, a few are still ignored. His updates are also mostly personal anecdotes. MORE

March 28, 2009

Jazz Brugge

Brugge, Belgium
October 2-October 5, 2008

Pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s German quartet rolled through a set of Thelonious Monk compositions; Sardinians, saxophonist Sandro Satta and keyboardist Antonello Salis liberally quoted Charles Mingus lines during their incendiary set; Berlin-based pianist Aki Takase and saxophonist Silke Eberhard recast Ornette Coleman’s tunes; and the French Trio de Clarinettes ended its set with harmonies reminiscent of Duke Ellington’s writing for his reed section.

All these sounds and many more were highlighted during the fourth edition of Jazz Brugge, which takes place every second year in this tourist-favored Belgium city, about 88 kilometres from Brussels. But sonic homage and musical interpolations were only notable when part of a broader interpretation of improvised music. Other players in this four-day festival came from Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland and Belgium. With strains of rock, New music and folklore informing the jazz presented at the festival’s three sonically impressive venues, music at the most notable concerts was completely unique or added to the tradition. The less-than-memorable sets were mired in past achievements or unworkable formulae MORE

February 13, 2009

Angeli/Parker/Rothenberg

Free Zone Appleby 2007
psi 08.04

Charting the obscured relationship between traditional and improvised music, three sound explorers from different countries use extended techniques and careful listening to unearth a seldom-explored trajectory to this territory.

Although not one could be defined as a folk musician, American alto saxophonist and clarinetist Ned Rothenberg re-orients the unique sounds of the Japanese shakuiachi for improvised ends; Paolo Angeli adapts the cello-sized, multi-string guitar of his native Sardinia with preparation, extra bridges and electronics; and British saxophonist Evan Parker has at times meshed his playing with contributions from tradition-stylists such as an Italian brass band and a Tuvan throat singer. MORE

December 18, 2008

London Improvisers Orchestra

Improvisations for George Riste
psi 08.06

London & Glasgow Improvisers Orchestras

Separately & Together

Emanem 4219

Successfully guiding free-form improvisations and conductions utilizing the talents of independent musicians in a large orchestra is a challenge; trying to do the same with two outsized improvising ensembles can be foolhardy. Yet that memorable experiment is captured on Separately & Together, a two-CD record of a 2007 meeting between London’s 27-piece Improvisers Orchestra and Glasgow’s 17-piece Improvisers Orchestra. Separate sets by both bands are also featured. MORE

December 18, 2008

London & Glasgow Improvisers Orchestras

Separately & Together
Emanem 4219

London Improvisers Orchestra

Improvisations for George Riste

psi 08.06

Successfully guiding free-form improvisations and conductions utilizing the talents of independent musicians in a large orchestra is a challenge; trying to do the same with two outsized improvising ensembles can be foolhardy. Yet that memorable experiment is captured on Separately & Together, a two-CD record of a 2007 meeting between London’s 27-piece Improvisers Orchestra and Glasgow’s 17-piece Improvisers Orchestra. Separate sets by both bands are also featured. MORE

November 25, 2008

Alexander Von Schlippenbach-Globe Unity Orchestra

Globe Unity - 40 Years
Intakt CD 133

Schlippenbach Trio

Gold Is Where You Find It

Intakt CD 143

More than 70 years old, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach is one more proof of Steve Lacy’s adage that “free jazz keeps you young”. A professional musician since 1962, Berlin-based Schlippenbach has maintained his level of creativity in various contexts, most prominently in the trans-European Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) and his trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens. MORE

November 20, 2008

Schaffhauser Jazzfestival

Schaffhausen, Switzerland
May 21 to 24 2008

Forty-seven years after she left her home town of Shauffchausen, Switzerland for nearby Zürich, pianist Irène Schweizer was back headlining the Schaffhauser Jazz Festival’s most ambitious program ever: performing “Radio Rondo”, a composition by bassist Barry Guy, which featured her and the London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO).

In its 19th year of showcasing Swiss jazz and improvised music, Schaffhauser expanded its horizons in 2008 with the Schweizer/LJCO summit, which took place in front of a sell-out crowd in the city’s modernist Stadtheater. The evening, which included a solo piano showcase for Schweizer, also emphasized two of the fest’s overall themes: the majority of the most interesting sets included piano; and non-Swiss musicians and motifs adding needed variety to the performances MORE

August 15, 2008

Fernández/Parker/Guy/Lytton

Topos
Maya Records MCD 0701

Finding a role within an already existing musical partnership can be problematic. When the relationship has lasted most of three decades it’s that much riskier. Yet as the nine instant compositions on this CD demonstrate, Catalan pianist Augustí Fernández creates no fissure when he performs with the long-standing British trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Paul Lytton.

It helps that the pianist, along with Lytton, is a member of extended Guy and Parker ensembles. Yet he’s such an accomplished stylist, whose collaborators range from Free Jazz bassist William Parker to New music flautist Jane Rigler, that his input enhances the tracks so that each part of the paradigm seems indivisible. MORE

July 2, 2008

Sonic Geography: Mulhouse, France

For MusicWorks Issue #101
BY KEN WAXMAN

During late August when some streets in Mulhouse, France take on a decidedly other-directed character associated with the Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) festival, it’s likely neither visitors nor locals realize the symbolic roots of the celebration, an integral part of the city since 1983.

Known as France’s Manchester, industry in this city of about 112,000 people in the Haut-Rhin region has been involved with the textile industry since 1746, when four locals founded the city’s first textile printing works. Annexed by France in 1798, Mulhouse was formerly a free republic associated with the Swiss Confederation. In the late 19th and early 20th century Mulhouse’s factories remained world leaders in the manufacture and marketing of printed cloth for both home and apparel, while students from around the world studied at the École nationale superieure des industries textiles. MORE

June 6, 2008

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland
Flying Note FNCD 9012

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves
Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss
Clean Feed CF 104 CD

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Open Loose

Strange Unison
Radio Legs RL 013

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs
Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

February 24, 2008

John Stevens-Evan Parker

Corner to Corner + The Longest Night
Ogun OGCD 022/023

Musically associated in a variety of ensembles from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer John Stevens (1940-1994) are generally credited as two of the half-dozen or so visionaries who helped create the unstructured collective sounds that characterized British Free Music.

Throughout the years, infrequent duo interactions offered both expansive opportunities to express themselves, and this important reissue combines what arguably are the two’s most accomplished duets: 1976’s The Longest Night and 1993’s Corner to Corner. Although of variable personalities – the mordant drummer loudly rubbed more people the wrong way then he did drum tops, while the saxophonist was and is more moderate in demeanor – their shared philosophy of facing every musical challenge head-on serves them well on both discs. MORE

January 31, 2008

Evan Parker & Ned Rothenberg

Live At Roulette
Animul ANI 106

Marc Baron/Bertrand Denzler/Jean-Luc Guionnet/Stéphane Rives

Propagations

Potlatch P107

ROVA

The Juke Box Suite

Not Two MW 786-2

With unaccompanied group reed sessions now commonplace in improvised music, the challenge remains to make them more than technical exercises. Each of these notable CD succeeds in doing so; but each does so in an individual manner.

As could be expected from its populist title, The Juke Box Suite is probably the most lyrical of the many CDs from the Bay area-based ROVA quartet, which arguably pioneered the four saxophone concept in improv. Propagations, on the other hand, features a quartet of young French saxophonists, who have only performed in this formation since 2003. Completely eschewing the song form, the group’s one long performance uses textures, layering and arrangements that use reeds as sound sources rather than melody extensions. A duo, rather than a quartet like those on the other CDs, Brooklyn-based Ned Rothenberg and London-based Evan Parker exhibit their mastery of the multi-reed form by blending different combinations of Rothenberg’s three reeds and Parker’s two on six live performances. MORE

January 31, 2008

ROVA

The Juke Box Suite
Not Two MW 786-2

Marc Baron/Bertrand Denzler/Jean-Luc Guionnet/Stéphane Rives

Propagations

Potlatch P107

Evan Parker & Ned Rothenberg

Live At Roulette

Animul ANI 106

With unaccompanied group reed sessions now commonplace in improvised music, the challenge remains to make them more than technical exercises. Each of these notable CD succeeds in doing so; but each does so in an individual manner.

As could be expected from its populist title, The Juke Box Suite is probably the most lyrical of the many CDs from the Bay area-based ROVA quartet, which arguably pioneered the four saxophone concept in improv. Propagations, on the other hand, features a quartet of young French saxophonists, who have only performed in this formation since 2003. Completely eschewing the song form, the group’s one long performance uses textures, layering and arrangements that use reeds as sound sources rather than melody extensions. A duo, rather than a quartet like those on the other CDs, Brooklyn-based Ned Rothenberg and London-based Evan Parker exhibit their mastery of the multi-reed form by blending different combinations of Rothenberg’s three reeds and Parker’s two on six live performances. MORE

January 31, 2008

ROVA

The Juke Box Suite
Not Two MW 786-2

Marc Baron/Bertrand Denzler/Jean-Luc Guionnet/Stéphane Rives

Propagation
s

Potlatch P107

Evan Parker & Ned Rothenberg

Live At Roulette

Animul ANI 106

With unaccompanied group reed sessions now commonplace in improvised music, the challenge remains to make them more than technical exercises. Each of these notable CD succeeds in doing so; but each does so in an individual manner.

As could be expected from its populist title, The Juke Box Suite is probably the most lyrical of the many CDs from the Bay area-based ROVA quartet, which arguably pioneered the four saxophone concept in improv. Propagations, on the other hand, features a quartet of young French saxophonists, who have only performed in this formation since 2003. Completely eschewing the song form, the group’s one long performance uses textures, layering and arrangements that use reeds as sound sources rather than melody extensions. A duo, rather than a quartet like those on the other CDs, Brooklyn-based Ned Rothenberg and London-based Evan Parker exhibit their mastery of the multi-reed form by blending different combinations of Rothenberg’s three reeds and Parker’s two on six live performances. MORE

January 31, 2008

Marc Baron/Bertrand Denzler/Jean-Luc Guionnet/Stéphane Rives

Propagations
Potlatch P107

ROVA

The Juke Box Suite

Not Two MW 786-2

Evan Parker & Ned Rothenberg

Live At Roulette

Animul ANI 106

With unaccompanied group reed sessions now commonplace in improvised music, the challenge remains to make them more than technical exercises. Each of these notable CD succeeds in doing so; but each does so in an individual manner.

As could be expected from its populist title, The Juke Box Suite is probably the most lyrical of the many CDs from the Bay area-based ROVA quartet, which arguably pioneered the four saxophone concept in improv. Propagations, on the other hand, features a quartet of young French saxophonists, who have only performed in this formation since 2003. Completely eschewing the song form, the group’s one long performance uses textures, layering and arrangements that use reeds as sound sources rather than melody extensions. A duo, rather than a quartet like those on the other CDs, Brooklyn-based Ned Rothenberg and London-based Evan Parker exhibit their mastery of the multi-reed form by blending different combinations of Rothenberg’s three reeds and Parker’s two on six live performances. MORE

January 15, 2008

Ken Waxman’s Top CDs for 2007

[In alphabetical order]
For CODA Issue 337

1. Muhal Richard Abrams, Vision Towards Essence Pi Recordings Pi23

2. Johannes Bauer/Thomas Lehn/Jon Rose, Futch Jazzwerkstatt JW 010

3. Bruce Eisenbeil Sextet, Inner Constellation Volume One. Nemu 007

4. Exploding Customer, At Your Service Ayler aylCD-063

5. Scott Fields Ensemble, Beckett Clean Feed CFO69 CD

6. Frank Gratkowski/Misha Mengelberg, Vis-à-vis Leo CD LR 476

7. François Houle, Evan Parker, Benoît Delbecq La Lumière de Pierres psi 07.02

8. Lucas Niggli Big Zoom, Celebrate Diversity Intakt CD 118 MORE

January 9, 2008

Jazz à Mulhouse gives a loving French kiss to Improvised music

By Ken Waxman
For CODA Issue 337

Impressive saxophone and reed displays were the focus of the 24th Edition of Jazz à Mulhouse in France in late August. Overall however, most of the 19 performances maintained a constant high quality. This may have something to do with the fact that unlike larger, flashier and more commercial festivals, Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) is an almost folksy showcase for improvisation.

Located less than 20 minutes away by train from Basel, Switzerland, Mulhouse is a mid-sized city of 150,000 in eastern France long known as an industrial textile centre. Low-key, JAM is rather like the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), with better restaurants. MORE

November 2, 2007

Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp

Abbey Road Duos
Treader trd 009

Confluence of musical improvisations at the highest plane, this CD captures a cross-generational melding of minds between a veteran British saxophonist and an accomplished American pianist. Although tenor and soprano saxophonist Evan Parker (b. 1944) initially solidified his mature style around when Matthew Shipp (b. 1960) was taking his first piano lessons, the inspired performances suggest no generational or geographic gap.

If any fissure exists, it’s that the British reedist’s tone is initially uncharacteristically breathy and gentle on the four-track tenor saxophone suite. Later as the pianist’s undertow of arpeggios hardens to metronomic pounding, exposing the keyboard’s timbral limits, broad-chested tenor exhalations solidify into harsh split tones, reed bites and note smears. MORE

November 27, 2006

Evan Parker

The Topography of the Lungs
psi 06.05

More heard about than heard, ever since Britons Derek Bailey and Evan Parker had their falling out in 1987, which included the proviso that The Topography of the Lungs (Incus 1), would not be reissued as long as Bailey ran the Incus label, the 1970 four-track LP has taken on the status of a totemic object.

Finally available again on Parker’s psi label, following Bailey’s death, and expanded with two additional tracks, the 1970 session lives up to its reputation as a defining artifact of European Free Improv. Yet 36 years later what resulted from the collaboration among Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones, Bailey on guitar and Dutch percussionist Han Bennink now sounds if not commonplace, at least contemporary. The saxophonist’s split tones and extended slurs, Bailey’s fastidious string manipulating and bending plus Bennink’s volleys of cymbal scratching and drum top pummeling have become lingua franca of a certain segment of the improv world. MORE

October 2, 2006

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Horn_Bill: Reed Solos
Matchless MRCD63

By Ken Waxman

An extended sonic essay in 21st Century reed techniques, HORN_BILL is an unaltered depiction of unaccompanied solos by five British sax players and a Berlin-based clarinetist. Absorbing in its audacity, this two-CD set captures the players not only eschewing melody, rhythm and harmony for silences and trifling breath dynamics, but in essence negating – with one significant exception – expected reed sounds.

The exception is tenor saxophonist Lou Gare’s “Saxophony”. A Free Music pioneer as a member of AMM up to the 1970s, Gare’s jazz-related variations have a title that perhaps unconsciously reflects some of the spectacular showcases of pioneering American sax popularizer Rudy Wiedoeft (1893-1940). As solipsistic as the others’ solos, his mellow tone is reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins’, with the variations played allegro with a wide, smeary vibrato and what seem to be a compendium of boppish licks. Although Gare exposes some falsetto note clusters, most of the time he lapses into almost pre-modern jazz riffs as if he was one part of a fanciful big band reed section. Most tellingly, just before the finale, he suddenly begins playing variations on “Lover Man”. MORE

August 11, 2006

Evan Parker Octet

Crossing the River
psi 06.02

Although there’s a numerical equivalence plus the crossover of several musicians, this octet shouldn’t be confused with the ensemble involved in tenor saxophonist Evan Parker’s electro-acoustic performances.

For a start there’s no hint of electronics here, even from violinist Philipp Wachsmann, who commonly uses wave forms as regularly as rosin. Plus while Wachsmann and Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández are on board, there’s no sign of the reedist’s long-time playing partners, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton. There’s no drummer at all in fact, while Wachsmann is part of a string choir of cellist Marcio Mattos, bassist John Edwards and guitarist John Russell – all of whom have played with Parker in other contexts. Most jolting is that the saxophonist is one of three horn players. John Rangecroft’s clarinet and Neil Metcalfe’s flute are the other wind instruments. Over the course of the more-than-77-minute CD, both get more space than Parker himself. MORE

August 4, 2006

Louis Moholo-Moholo

Bra Louis-Bra Bra-Tebs/Spirits Rejoice
Ogun CD017/018

Sole survivor of the legendary Blue Notes band that left Apartheid-era South Africa in the mid-1960s, drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo finally returned permanently to Cape Town in 2004. But during the three decades that he and his fellow exiled countrymen lived in Europe they added an undiluted tincture of African sensibility to the developing Free Music scene.

This CD assembles two important large group sessions. Spirits Rejoice, released on LP in 1978, is an octet date, which finds the drummer and two other expatriate South Africans – bassist Johnny Dyani, another former Blue Note, and bassist Harry Miller, who left the country on his own – working out with the ne plus ultra of BritImprov including trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, tenor saxophonist Evan Parker and pianist Keith Tippett. Elaborated are five longish pieces that mix Xhosa tribe rhythmic inflections, revivalist hymns and freeform Energy Music. MORE

April 17, 2006

The Sound of Squirrel Meals: The Work of Lol Coxhill

Edited By Barbara Schwarz
Black Press

By Ken Waxman
April 17, 2006

Perhaps the sort of player who only could have thrived in the ever-shifting scene that developed in the United Kingdom starting in the mid-960s, soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill is one of improvised music’s most distinctive characters.

In truth, the bulky, bald-headed Portsmouth-born saxophonist has always been a fellow traveller to Improvised Music, but never quite a card-carrying member. That’s because his quirkiness – and need to make a living – has encompassed a multiplicity of gigs, most of which he’s accepted with the same equanimity of spirit. In other words he’s been just as satisfied playing a featured role with punk band the Damned and other rockers as improvising with fellow reed masters like Steve Lacy and Evan Parker. He has been part of oddball vocal-and-instrumental groups like The Melody Four as well as more serious endeavors like the London Improvisers Orchestra. He has appeared as a TV and film actor. Plus he’s spent days busking outdoors almost as often as he’s been featured in proper concert settings. MORE

December 5, 2005

NICK STEPHENS SEPTET

Live at the Plough Stockwell
Loose Torque LT007

FAST COLOUR
Antwerp 1988
Loose Torque LT001

Two vibrant snapshots of London Jazz in the late 1980s, early 1990s, these discs show that just before the Limey version of Young Lions appeared, musicians of many different schools had developed a rapport with one another.

By this time jazz-rockers, Free Musicians and boppers had been coexisting for a good many years, while the Brits had the added advantage of having internalized the Kwela and Township Jive rhythms expatriate South Africans players brought with them to the British jazz scene, after they fled Apartheid. MORE

October 31, 2005

DEREK BAILEY/EVAN PARKER

The London Concert
psi 05.01

STEVENS/WATTS/GUY
Mining the seam - the rest of the Spotlite sessions
Hi 4 Head Records HFH CD003

Combining and splitting apart numerous times in various bands – ad hoc and not –during a period in the late 1960s and early 1970s now seen as the genesis of British Free Music, guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer John Stevens (1940–1994) are almost universally acknowledged as dual catalysts who nurtured the nascent scene.

Although over the years both improvised with just about anyone and mentored a large number of younger musicians, Stevens had, and Bailey still has, a fairly prickly personality. That meant that at the same time newer players were being initiated into freer sounds, one or both was usually carrying on a feud with older associates and sometimes with one other. Bailey has maintained from that time that every performance should be completely improvised with each creation a tabla rasa. Less rigid, Stevens didn’t disdain composition and wasn’t above playing jazz, Free Jazz and a touch of jazz-rock. MORE

September 26, 2005

LONDON IMPROVISERS ORCHESTRA

Responses, Reproduction & Reality
EMANEM 4110

Outgrowth of a Butch Morris-led conduction that took place in London a few years ago, the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO) has evolved into a once-a-month gig where some of the British capital’s best improvisers get together to try out new ideas.

Involving a revolving cast of 30-plus players as well as different conductors and composers, the LIO has taken on an identity far beyond that of a BritImprov kicks band. However as these seven tracks, recorded at 2003’s and 2004’s Freedom of the City festivals demonstrate, the outcome is still inconsistent. MORE

September 26, 2005

SCHLIPPENBACH TRIO

Compression: Live at Total Music Meeting 2002
a|l|l 011

EVAN PARKER/MARK SANDERS/JOHN COXON/ASHLEY WALES
Trio with Interludes
Treader trd002

Free Music’s paramount concern is in constantly making it new. Incongruously, though, this freshness as often results from the faith improvisers have in the abilities of longtime collaborators as from musicians experimenting with new players and novel instruments.

COMPRRESSION and TRIO WITH INTERLUDES aptly demonstrate these opposing stratagems in discs featuring veteran BritImproviser Evan Parker. The first is yet another masterful performance by Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones and the two German musicians who have made up this trio since the early1970s: pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and Paul Lovens on selected drums and cymbals. MORE

June 27, 2005

Evan Parker

With Birds
Treader

Bo van de Graaf
Ticket
Icdisc

By Ken Waxman
June 27, 2005

Since the earliest part of the 20th century, more than at any other time, divisions have existed between musicians who take their inspiration from nature and those who ally themselves with urbanism.

Obviously many players and composers fall between the two camps, but the nature camp includes at very least New Age composers and most folk singers. Industrial rock and musical futurism take the other tack. Sometimes this divide extends to improvised music as well. But that genre’s triumph is that an admixture of these elements with the input of an inventive improviser produces unexpected results. MORE

May 2, 2005

Surd

Live at Glenn Miller Café
Ayler Records

Sandell/Stackenäs/Parker/Guy/Lytton
Gubbröra
psi By Ken Waxman
May 2, 2005

Swedish guitarist David Stackenäs has been someone to watch every since he released his remarkable solo session, The Guitar, on Häpna five years ago. Since that time he’s extended his early promise, playing with a variety of improvisers ranging from Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson to American multi-reedist Ken Vandermark.

Recorded one month apart last summer in Stockholm and London, the most recent CDs on which he’s featured, suggest that he may be at a crossroads. Live at Glenn Miller Café, featuring local band Surd – Fredrik Nordström on alto and tenor saxophones, bassist Filip Augustsonon and drummer Thomas Strønen as well as the guitarist – in a speedy freebop romp that at points veers awfully close to fusion-like excess. Far superior is the more than 71½-minute Gubbröra, which matches Stackenäs with four veteran improvisers. Duos with fellow Swede Sten Sandell on piano, voice and electronics, make up the first two tracks; the third adds Sandell and Stackenäs to the transcendent British trio of Evan Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones, Barry Guy on bass and Paul Lytton on drums. MORE

March 28, 2005

EVAN PARKER TRIO & PETER BRÖTZMANN TRIO

The Bishop’s Move
VICTO cd 093

A extraordinary face off between veteran improv titans or as they prefer to say at the Victoriaville festival, un première mondiale, this meeting combines British saxophonist Evan Parker’s touring group with German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s Northern American band. More of a rapprochement than a battle royal, the 73½-minute session, recorded live at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in 2003 categorically accentuates the similarities rather than the differences between the two improv power trios. MORE

January 31, 2005

Free Jazz and Free Improvisation

An Encyclopedia by Todd S. Jenkins
Greenwood Press Volume One A-J; Volume Two K-Z

By Ken Waxman

January 31, 2005

Reviewing a stand-alone project like Free Jazz and Free Improvisation presents a unique set of challenges, since you must deal with what isn’t covered in the 500-odd oversized pages of these two volumes as much as what is.

From the downbeat author Todd Jenkins has to be commended for his Herculean task, collecting from various sources essential information about Free Music and putting it into approachable form for the student, the researcher as well as the improvisational newbie. MORE

January 31, 2005

PARKER/SCHLIPPENBACH/LYTTON

America 2003
psi 04.06/7

Free Music pioneers -- reedist Evan Parker, pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach and percussionist Paul Lytton -- would never think of making an “in the tradition” record. Yet this two-CD souvenir of the trio’s 2003 American tour can be heard as the band’s “jazz” record.

Not that anyone plays “Satin Doll” or “Hothouse” or lays down proper bebop riffs. It’s just that within the parameters of individual expression that the three have developed over the years, you can hear echoes of honking R&B saxmen from Parker and boogie-woogie bluescians from Schlippenbach. MORE

December 20, 2004

EVAN PARKER’S ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC ENSEMBLE

Memory/Vision
ECM 1852

Accelerating involvement in electro-acoustic creations has characterized one of British saxophonist Evan Parker’s many activities since the mid-1990s.

Parker, whose more than 35 year career has involved membership in groups ranging from massive big bands to two matchless improv trios, and who helped create the solo saxophone recital, has mastered a different genre with this CD.

In its parameters and evocation, this 70-minute plus continuous performance, commissioned by a British contemporary music festival, amplifies the reedist’s partnerships and conceptions. Performed by a nonet, two of the players -- bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Paul Lytton -- are Parker collaborators of decades standing and combine in one of his long constituted trios. Two others -- British/Ugandan violinist Philipp Wachsmann and Spanish pianist Augustí Fernández have worked with Parker in duo and larger group situations, both electronic an acoustic. Parker and Guy alone have recorded with Lawrence Casserley who mans the signal processing equipment here; while computer sound processor Joel Ryan has worked with Parker and French bassist Joëlle Léandre, another Parker associate. Italians Walter Prati on electronics and sound processing and Marco Vecchi on electronics have participated in the saxist’s other electro-acoustic sessions. MORE

November 15, 2004

John Tilbury & Eddie Prévost

discrete moments
Matchless

Evan Parker & Eddie Prévost
imponderable evidence
Matchless

By Ken Waxman
November 22, 2004

Despite various personnel permutations in British microtonal progenitor AMM since its formation in 1966, members have always characterized the band as involving much more than the musicians on stage and on record.

While this particular piece of mysticism seems out of character for the prodigiously educated and experienced players who make up the band, there’s no disputing that non-AMM projects expose unexpected musical persona of its members. Both these duo CDs are cases-in-point. MORE

October 1, 2004

Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation

By Ben Watson
Verso Books

by Ken Waxman

October 1, 2004

Endlessly inventive as an improviser and a superb organizer, guitarist Derek Bailey is also opinionated, combative, passively aggressive, dogmatic and often self-satisfied. Still, the 74-year-old Sheffield, England-born Bailey is pretty much at Ground Zero when it comes to discussing Free Music, at least in its British manifestation.

London-based critic Ben Watson attempts to explain both the man and his music in this volume. Yet Watson also tries for much more than standard biographical, chronological and discographical fact gathering. He not only ponders Free Music’s place among other, more commercial musics, but also tries to show how experimental sounds reflect musicians’ liberation from what he sees as a class-ridden, capitalist society. MORE

June 21, 2004

CHRIS MCGREGOR’S BROTHERHOOD OF BREATH

Bremen To Bridgwater
Cuneiform Records Rune 182/183

Count Basie of the Townships could have been the late South African pianist Chris McGregor’s nickname. That is, if his Brotherhood of Breath (BOB) big band, featured on this two-CD set of 1970s performances, didn’t add the colorations of Charles Mingus’ bigger groups and suggestions of Hank Crawford’s arrangements for Ray Charles to its unique mix of modern jazz and South African jive.

Earlier, apartheid era officials went out of their way to discourage the white pianist from mixing with black musicians. Which is why Capetown’s McGregor (1936-1990) and his black fellow players in the Blue Notes sextet ended up living permanently in Europe after 1964. MORE

June 14, 2004

STAN TRACEY/EVAN PARKER

Suspensions and Anticipations
psi 04.02

Back in the 1950s there was a whole series of records called something like “Jazz Music for People Who Don’t Like Jazz”. This CD could bear a similar subtitle: “An Evan Parker CD for People Who Don’t Like Evan Parker”.

Not that this pioneering exponent of BritImprov has altered his style to make it more listener friendly. But this match-up with pianist Stan Tracey, the 77-year-old iconoclastic British jazzer, finds the 60-year-old Parker -- who sticks to tenor saxophone throughout -- creating a gentle, balladic disc that may attract those outside of the hardcore Free Improv crowd. MORE

April 26, 2004

KENNY WHEELER

Song for Someone
psi 04.01

Epitome of the polite, quiet Canadian, trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler has now lived in Great Britain for more than a half century. During that time he’s gone from playing in large dance and bebop bands to working with international free music ensembles to creating a modified synthesis of all those influences as his own music.

This direct reissue of a 1973 LP may have been when it was first released the most conventional item on what was then guitarist Derek Bailey’s and saxophonist Evan Parker’s Incus label. Wheeler had already played free music with drummer John Stevens and was soon to begin an association with experimenters like American reedist Anthony Braxton and the German-based Globe Unity Orchestra. But except for a couple of tracks, the pieces he wrote for this date mostly meld his big band past with his moody, reflective streak. MORE

December 1, 2003

GIANLUIGI TROVESI OTTETTO

Fugace
ECM 1827

GLOBE UNITY ORCHESTRA
Globe Unity 2002
Intakt CD 086

One potential horror comedians are always joking about is a world where the transportation schedules would be set by the Italians and the restaurants run by the British and Germans.

As humorous as this may sound as a situation, these CDs by mid-sized (eight- and nine-piece) bands shows that remarkable sounds can still result if countrymen act antithetically to their clichéd national characteristics. MORE

October 20, 2003

KEN VANDERMARK

Furniture Music
Okka Disk OD 12046

ALESSANDRO BOSETTI/GREGOR HOTZ/KAI FAGASCHINKSI/RUDI MAHALL
Berlin Reeds
Absinth Records 001

EVAN PARKER/GEORGE HASLAM /JOHN EDWARDS
Parker - Haslam - Edwards
SLAM CD314

BERTRAND DENZLER/HANS KOCH
Asymétries
Ambiance Magnétiques AM 112 CD

Woodwind players galore in solo or duo settings are featured on these CDs, which not only replicate the stratagems reedists evolve to cope with such concentrated playing, but confirm the divisions between Continental and Anglo-Saxon interpreters. MORE

October 6, 2003

PETER BRÖTZMANN

More Nipples
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP236CD

Prime cuts of Peter Brötzmann and company at his most ferocious, the 40 minutes of music on this CD were literally forgotten until 2002 when FMP founder Jost Gebers discovered this cache of unreleased tapes in his archives.

Living up to the series title, the three tracks were recorded at the same 1969 session that produced NIPPLES (Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 205 CD), one of the German saxophonist’s most distinctive early sessions, that itself was out-of-print for years until reissued in 2000. Unlike that disc, British saxophonist Evan Parker and guitarist Derek Bailey are only featured on the title track. The other two highlight the reedist’s quartet of the time, completed by Flemish pianist Fred Van Hove, the late German bassist Buschi Niebergall and Holland’s Han Bennink on drums and percussion. MORE

August 18, 2003

ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH TRIO

Pakistani Pomade
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP240CD

Asked at one point in the mid-1980s to name his favorite trio disc, British saxophonist Evan Parker cited this 1972 session with Germans, pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach and drummer Paul Lovens, initially recorded for FMP.

That’s not surprising. For at a time when most of the attention on the American jazz scene was focused on the few moments of pure improvisation that showed up in the earliest incarnations of fusion bands like Weather Report and Return to Forever, this disc shows Europeans expanding the improv tradition in their own way. MORE

June 23, 2003

EVAN PARKER/JOE MCPHEE

Chicago Tenor Duets
OkkaDisk OD 12033

BARRY GUY-EVAN PARKER
Birds and Blades
Intakt Double CD 080

Two more aural essays on the subtle art of the duo, these CDs feature three improvisers who long ago proved that they can hold their own in musical situations involving any size of band.

Connection between the two discs comes from the presence of British saxophonist Evan Parker, who with his philosophical theories and technical mastery has been producing intelligent commentary on reed advancement since the mid-1960s. On BIRDS AND BLADES, A two-CD set recorded in Zürich in 2001, he’s partnered with longtime confrere bassist Barry Guy. Another cerebral experimenter, the bassist and the sax man have worked in contexts from big bands to duos for years, with their first duo meeting taking place in 1981. MORE

March 3, 2003

PARKER/GUY/LYTTON

At Les Instants Chavirés
psi 02.06

TRI-DIM
2 of 2
SOFA 510

Two expressions from the language of romance and relationships may be appropriate when discussing the music on these two CDs which feature British bassist Barry Guy.

It’s said that after they live together for some time, a married couple starts to resemble one another. Expanding that thesis, you may note on the exemplary live disc recorded in Paris, that after more than two decades of working together Guy, saxophonist Evan Parker and percussionist Paul Lytton sometimes use strategies in their own improvisations that were initially developed by another member of the trio. MORE

December 16, 2002

MANFRED SCHOOF

European Echoes
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 232CD

ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH
The Living Music
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 231CD

Multi-reedman Peter Brötzmann always insists that when pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and trumpeter Manfred Schoof first heard his pioneering free jazz band in the mid-1960s “they just laughed their asses off. At that time they played the Horace Silver-style thing”. But, by the end of the decade as Brötzmann widened his circle to include other experimenters like Dutch drummer Han Bennink and worked with American jazzers like trumpeter Don Cherry and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, his fellow Germans began to come around as well. MORE

November 18, 2002

SPRING HEEL JACK

Amassed
Thirsty Ear TH 57123.2

Note: this CD project was done by certified professionals. Kids don’t try to replicate it at home.

That fanciful slogan could be attached on a parental advisory sticker for this disc. For despite the proliferation of less expensive computer mixing and sampling equipment over the past few years, producing a CD which melds improvised music and studio-created sounds is much more difficult than your average club remix.

But Britons John Coxon and Ashley Wells, who operate as Spring Hell Jack (SHJ), know exactly what they’re doing, as this session aptly demonstrates. Many attempts by others are embarrassing, unmusical, or both. MORE

January 1, 2002

EVAN PARKER

Lines Burnt in Light
PSI 01.01

As soon as you hear one note from his horn you’re immediately projected into the soundworld of Evan Parker.

That’s because the British reedman has spent nearly 35 years creating a very personal and particular tone. He has tested, tempered and treated it in aggregations as colossal as the Globe Unity Orchestra and as miniscule as his trio with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton, and with as many others as possible.

He’s also one pioneer of solo saxophone improvisations, and this, his first solo saxophone record in several years, is also the initial release on his own PSI imprint. MORE

December 3, 2001

GLOBE UNITY ORCHESTRA

Globe Unity ’67 & ‘70
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 223 CD

Souvenirs of a time when “globe unity” meant more than the convergence of commercial or military interests, this CD of never-before-released tracks feature a small army of Euro improvisers luxuriating in the freedom promulgated by John Coltrane’s ASCENSION and The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

Formed in late 1966, following a Berlin Jazz Festival commission for founder/pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, the Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) evolved over the years from this wild-and-wooly Energy ensemble to one that joined other European large groups in a concern for compositions. Besides, many might find that these two pieces, initially taped for German radio, more exciting than what came from the band afterwards. MORE

October 29, 2001

CHRIS MCGREGOR & THE BROTHERHOOD OF BREATH

Travelling Somewhere
Cuneiform Records Rune 152

Illustrating one of the appealing, yet little explored, tributaries of improvised music, this nearly 80 minute blast from the past presents British-South African pianist Chris McGregor's 12-piece Brotherhood of Breath (BOB) recorded live in a 1973 German gig.

Outgrowth of the racially mixed Blue Notes combo that, because of Apartheid, as forced to relocate from Africa to England in the early 1960s, BOB was an altogether more expansive project. With a nucleus of the original combo -- trumpeter Mongezi Feza, alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and drummer Louis Moholo as well as McGregor -- it welcomed other immigrants like South African bassist Harry Miller and Barbadian trumpeter Harry Beckett to the fold, and filled out the band with the cream of MORE

October 22, 2001

EVAN PARKER/BARRY GUY/LAWRENCE CASSERLEY

Dividuality
Maya MCD 0101

Having explored nearly every sort of improvised music from solo to big band in their more than three decade journey, bassist Barry Guy and saxophonist Evan Parker have become the Lewis and Clarke of BritImprov.

The past five years, however, have seen them, like Sir Edmund Hillary, finding another peak to investigate simply because it's there: electronics. Luckily their Sherpa on this trip is Lawrence Casserley, one of the grand old men of the field, who is a composer and performer as well as a signal processor. MORE

April 24, 2001

PAUL BLEY/EVAN PARKER/BARRE PHILLIPS

Sankt Gerold
ECM 1609 012 157 899-2

Recorded at the spectacularly-situated Propstei Sankt Gerold, monastery in the Austrian alps, this follow up to the trio's lavishly praised TIME WILL TELL CD, offers a disparate vision of how the participants view sound.

Imbued with a chamber jazz essence, the first CD was also, extraordinarily, the first time British saxophonist Evan Parker and Canadian pianist Paul Bley had recorded together, despite having been involved with improvised music for, at that point, about 35 years each. Veteran American bassist Barre Phillips was the common link, and the success of the session not only set new standards of literate blending, but two years later, also allowed the three to embark on their first-ever -- and so far only -- trio tour including this date. SANKT GEROLD pinpoints the group's singularity as well as its cohesiveness. Unlike TIME's seven trio and four duo selections, this CD is divided between five trio selections and a basket full of solo spots for each member.

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November 28, 2000

EVAN PARKER/TONART ENSEMBLE

Brot & Honig
True Muze TUMU CD 0003

With an attitude that might well be "have improvisation will travel", British saxophone innovator Evan Parker has brought his horns and prodigious technique to many countries over the past 35 years, working in ensembles ranging from duos to big bands.

BROT & HONIG is a souvenir of one of his more recent forays: a five day trip to Hamburg, Germany last year to collaborate for the first time with this 13-piece improvisers collective. The results, while fine music, are a bit surprising. For of the two lengthly compositions performed by the group, the one "composed" by Parker sounds more like modern, so-called legitimate (i.e. classical) music, while the other, created by TonArt violinist Nicola Kruse appears to be pure improv.

MORE

October 19, 2000

EVAN PARKER/KEITH ROWE

Dark Rags
Potlatch P 200

Nearly 40 years after Parker, as part of the Spontaneous Musical Ensemble, and Rowe in AMM, separately began creating unique improvisational languages, they've finally recorded as a duo.

For men on either side of 60 the dictum that "free jazz keeps you young" must be true, for the result is as engaging and thought-provoking as anything the two have produced during their long careers.

Of course there are still those, including Parker and Rowe at different times of their lives, who would argue against labeling DARK RAGS jazz. Maybe it isn't, but even if you ignore the musically historical meaning of "rags", it's also a truism that sounds like this couldn't exist without jazz.

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October 4, 2000

SCHLIPPENBACH QUARTET

Hunting The Snake
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 213 CD

One of the longest lasting of Euroimprov groups -- since 1972 -- the trio of Parker/Schlippenbach/Lovens was also unique because, until the 1990s, it recorded so infrequently.

But that's understandable as well. German pianist Schlippenbach was busy with first the Globe Unity Orchestra and then the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra; German drummer Lovens was sideman of choice for everyone from Cecil Taylor to Eugene Chadbourne; and Englishman Parker -- citizen of the world -- was behind the microphone with everyone from a Tuvan throat singer to Italian improvisers.

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June 17, 2000

PETER BRÖTZMANN

Nipples
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 205 CD

One of the great, lost Euroimprov records, NIPPLES could rightly be described as a supersession. Recorded in 1969, less than a year after German saxophonist Brötzmann's seminal call to free jazz arms, MACHINE GUN, it has been out of print for almost the same amount of time. Not only does the title track feature five of the MACHINE GUNners, but it adds guitarist Bailey, who with saxophonist Parker would very soon turn away from this extroverted style to concentrate on the distinctive British "scratch and pick" style.

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April 22, 2000

EVAN PARKER

Drawn Inward
ECM 1693 547 209-2

It's actually quite appropriate to employ the over-used expression "quantum leap" when talking about the music of Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. For there's an actual transformation of energy here as the explorative British saxophonist and his group tailor live electronics and sound processing to their own ends.

Parker, who has spent the years since the mid-1960s, perfecting a unique improv language for his horns, has never been one to turn away from challenging musical situations. During that time he has not only performed with the cream of jazz/improv musicians, but also with others as varied as a Tuvan throat singer, an Italian brass band and even a shoe-gazing rocker. His concept seems to be to make it different with every outing. And that's how he and his associates approach this memorable CD. But paradoxically, it works so well because of a combination of the familiar and the unusual.

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