Evan Parker will perform at the Technocultural Studies Building on Monday at 7 p.m. Preceding the free concert will be a workshop at 4 p.m.
A saxophonist from England, Parker rarely comes to the U.S. Since he has done only a handful of concerts here, his performance at the TCS Building should be a treat for Aggies.
“Davis is quite lucky to have him,” said technocultural studies professor Bob Ostertag. “Evan is at the absolute top of his field in the last 50 years.”
Listing Coltrane as one of his influences, Parker has made a name for himself as a top-notch improvisational saxophonist. He embarked on his musical journey in the 1960s with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, which was comprised of Derek Bailey on guitar, Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, Dave Holland on bass and John Stevens on drum.
Along with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley, he founded Incus Records in the 1960s, which for 40 years was the world’s main record label that people looked to. Referred to as “the first independent, musician-run record company in Britain,” Incus Records was largely centered on improvisation. Since then, Parker has toured all over the world.
“Parker developed novel techniques for playing saxophone,” Ostertag said. “The saxophone has very rich history of intense exploration. It has been one of the main voices of the tradition of jazz, explored by a rich array of musicians. Parker has successfully mastered it.”
Among the artists Parker has recorded with are Parker/Guy/Lytton with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton, and the Schlippenbach Trio with pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and drummer Paul Lovens. He has also recorded with Guy’s London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and Marilyn Crispell.
Ostertag said that Parker – having performed in mostly free settings – has not quite made the name for himself that such talent deserves.
“He is a master of circular breathing, and probably will not stop to take a breath the entire performance,” Ostertag said. “If you’ve never heard Evan play, hearing him give his performance will be surprising and astounding.”
Gareth Ewing, a senior music major, agreed with Ostertag that Parker has amazing mastery over extended techniques that have reinvented the instrument.
“His ability to create multiphonics while incorporating circular breathing techniques is one of the trademark features to his idiosyncratic style on the saxophone,” Ewing said. “You can expect to hear Parker layer melodic phrases with multiphonics making it sound as if there are multiple saxophonists playing without pause. His style adds a uniqueness and creative edge to improvised music that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Students can expect to hear music that will oscillate from intense jarring dissonance to slow moving expansive ethereal soundscapes.”
TCS faculty member Jesse Drew said that the department emphasizes and highlights the kind of creative exploration and improvisation exemplified by Mr. Parker.
Hear the master of circular breathing for yourself this coming Monday at the TCS Building. More information can be found at the technocultural studies events page.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at email@example.com.