Evan Parker

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Evan Parker
Evan Parker 05N0695.jpg
Moers Festival, 2012
Background information
Birth nameEvan Shaw Parker
Born (1944-04-05) 5 April 1944 (age 79)
Bristol, England
Genres free improvisation, free jazz
LabelsPsi, Emanem, Clean Feed, Incus, Leo, Rune Grammofon, Tzadik
Website www.evanparker.com
Evan Parker, Buffalo, New York Evan Parker DSC0024 2.jpg
Evan Parker, Buffalo, New York

Evan Shaw Parker (born 5 April 1944) [1] is a British tenor and soprano saxophone player who plays free improvisation.


Recording and performing prolifically with many collaborators, Parker was a pivotal figure in the development of European free jazz and free improvisation. He has pioneered or substantially expanded an array of extended techniques. Critic Ron Wynn describes Parker as "among Europe's most innovative and intriguing saxophonists...his solo sax work isn't for the squeamish." [2]

Early influences

Parker's original inspiration was Paul Desmond. [3] Parker soon discovered the music of John Coltrane, who would be the primary influence throughout his career. Other important early influences were free jazz artists Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler and Jimmy Giuffre. In recent years the influence of cool jazz saxophone players have become apparent in his music, with Parker recording tributes to Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz on Time Will Tell (ECM, 1993) and Chicago Solo (Okka Disk, 1997).

Early career

Parker moved to London in 1966 and quickly became a part of the city’s improvised music scene based around the Little Theatre Club, joining John StevensSpontaneous Music Ensemble. [1] Along with guitarist Derek Bailey, he quickly became a leading figure in the improvised music movement in London and throughout Europe. [1] One of his most lasting connections was with German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, whose trio he joined in 1970. [1]

Solo soprano

Visualization of Auditory Streaming Streaming in Auditory Scene Analysis.gif
Visualization of Auditory Streaming

Parker is perhaps best known for his solo performances. Originally dismissive of solo performance as being too close in nature to traditional composition, he was inspired to experiment with solo performance by the possibilities for musician-instrument interaction demonstrated by Derek Bailey’s solo guitar improvisations. [4] Primarily using the soprano saxophone for these solo performances, the music makes use of a principle known as auditory streaming, [5] where the use of wide registers creates the illusion of polyphony, which Parker terms “pseudo-polyphony”. This effect is achieved primarily by using multiphonics or harmonics in combination with circular breathing, polyrhythmic fingering, and split tonguing. [6]

Electronic music

Working with electronic music since the early days of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble or with his duo with Paul Lytton, Parker has become increasingly interested in electronics, usually through inviting collaborators such as Phil Wachsmann, Walter Prati, Joel Ryan, Lawrence Casserley, Sam Pluta or Matthew Wright to process his playing electronically, creating a feedback loop and shifting soundscape. [3] His various Electro-Acoustic Ensembles in particular are a showcase for this area of his work.

Later career and recordings

Evan Parker, 2005 Evan Parker.jpg
Evan Parker, 2005

Parker has recorded a large number of albums both solo or as a group leader, and has recorded or performed with Peter Brötzmann, [7] Michael Nyman, John Stevens, Derek Bailey, Keith Rowe, Joe McPhee, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Ikue Mori, Thurston Moore, Cyro Baptista, Milford Graves, George E. Lewis, Tim Berne, Mark Dresser, Dave Holland, Sylvie Courvoisier, and many others. Two key associations have been pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's trio with Parker and drummer Paul Lovens (documented on recordings such as Pakistani Pomade and Elf Bagatellen) and a trio with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton. [8] [9] On Parker's 50th birthday, these two bands played a set apiece at a London concert; the results were issued by Leo Records as the 50th Birthday Concert. [10]

Parker, Bailey, and Tony Oxley founded Incus Records in 1970. The label continued under Bailey's sole control after a falling-out between the two men[ which? ] in the early 1980s. Parker curates Psi Records, [3] which is issued by Martin Davidson's Emanem Records.

From 1999 to 2007 Parker co-ordinated, recorded and played in the Free Zone at the Appleby Jazz Festival, held in Cumbria, England. The recordings were issued through his Psi record label.

Although Parker's focus is free improvisation, he has appeared in conventional jazz contexts, such as Charlie Watts's big band and Kenny Wheeler's ensembles and participated in Gavin Bryars's recording After the Requiem, performing the composition "Alaric I or II" as part of a saxophone quartet. [11]

Parker contributed to David Sylvian's albums Manafon and Died in the Wool. [12]

Pop music

He also has appeared in pop-music contexts: on Scott Walker's Climate of Hunter , and on dubesque albums with Jah Wobble, the adventurous drum n bass duo Spring Heel Jack and rock group Spiritualized. He appeared on the b-side to Vic Reeves and The Wonderstuff's UK 1991 number-one hit "Dizzy", performing saxophone on "Oh, Mr Songwriter" (based on Vic Reeves Big Night Out TV show end theme song). [13] At one point during a sax solo, Vic can be heard shouting: "Pack it in, Parker!"

Parker has also made notable appearances on record with Robert Wyatt. [14]

Evan Parker playing in Aarhus, Denmark, 2010


As leader/co-leader

As sideman

With Derek Bailey

With Han Bennink

With Borah Bergman

With Paul Bley

With Anthony Braxton

With Peter Brötzmann

With Gavin Bryars

With Lawrence Casserley

With Alvin Curran

With Pierre Favre

With Joe Gallivan

With the Globe Unity Orchestra

With Barry Guy/The London Jazz Composers' Orchestra

With the Barry Guy New Orchestra

With Paul Haines

With Dave Holland

With Tony Hymas - Barney Bush

With Steve Lacy

With Chris McGregor

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Louis Moholo

With The Music Improvisation Company

With Natural Information Society

With Michael Nyman

With Tony Oxley

With Jean-François Pauvros

With Paul Rutherford and Iskra 1912

With Alexander von Schlippenbach

With Manfred Schoof

With Setoladimaiale Unit

With the Spontaneous Music Ensemble

With Spring Heel Jack

With David Sylvian

with Cecil Taylor

With Stan Tracey

With Scott Walker

With Charlie Watts

With Kenny Wheeler

With Robert Wyatt

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  2. Wynn, Ron. "Evan Parker: Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 "Evan Parker". European Free Improvisation Pages. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
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  6. Corbett, John. Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein (Duke University Press, 1994)
  7. Fordham, John (22 November 2010). "50 great moments in jazz: Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun". The Guardian . Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  8. Fordham, John (23 July 2015). "Evan Parker/Alex von Schlippenbach: 3 Nights at Cafe Oto review – a fine free-improv treat". The Guardian]. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  9. "Evan Parker / Sten Sandell / John Edwards / Paul Lytton". Vortex. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  10. "Evan Parker 50th Birthday Concert". AllMusic . Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. "After the Requiem". Qobuz. Archived from the original on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  12. Kelman, John. "David Sylvian: Died in the Wool - Manafon Variations". All About Jazz . Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  13. Smith, Stewart. "Complicated Sublimity: Evan Parker Interviewed". The Quietus . Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  14. "Evan Parker sets his jazz free". The Herald. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.