Evan Parker//Matthew Wright/Trance Map+

Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf
Intakt CD 329

Evan Parker/Paul G. Smyth

Calenture and Light Leaks

Weekertoft WKTCD 10

Midway through his seventies, veteran British saxophonist Evan Parker continues to take on new challenges. Despite being part of some of Free Music’s seminal bands from the 1960s onwards, Parker – like many of his more generous contemporaries – never turns down opportunities to flex his musical muscles in novel manners. One of these CDs, Calenture and Light Leaks captures the first recorded meeting between Parker playing tenor saxophone and Irish pianist Paul G. Smyth. The other disc is an expansion of the electro-acoustic programs Parker explored in this century’s early teens with Spring Heel Jack and others. On Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf his soprano saxophone improvises alongside not only Spring Heel Jack, which is John Coxon using turntable and electronics and Ashley Wales’ electronics, but also the turntable and live sampling of Matthew Wright and Adam Linson’s bass and electronics. Both CDs were recorded live. But except for vociferous affirmations at individual finales, the audience was so fascinated by the musical experimenters that not a sound is heard.

Parker’s unmistakable in-and-out-of-focus reed burbles are heard right at the top of “Calenture and Light Leaks” as Smyth’s unifying keyboard clipping quickly join the sequence unrolling. Over the next nearly 33 minutes the two work out the program at an unhurried pace as the saxophone’s curlicue swirls and irregular vibrations insert themselves among the pianist’s flowery yet focused dynamics. Parker, whose piano partners have ranged from Alexander von Schlippenbach to Matthew Shipp, continues timbre stretching, and then discharges one of the many instances of circular breathing he uses throughout. Unfazed, Smyth, who has recorded with John Russell, faces the squirming reed mass with syncopated key patterning and strained inner string plucks which soon unearth as many tones as Parker. After an episode of internal call-and-response Parker detours into a story-telling sequence, as the pianist cascades into the lowest pitches possible, permeating the farthest reaches of the soundboard, piano harp and escarpment. The tremolo ostinato created, it cannily underscores and makes a concluding connection with pressurized reed smears. Much percussive with wood raps as part of Smyth narrative and irregular reed vibrations characterize “Baffled, Standing in the Air”. This dissolving sequence serves as a sort of coda to the proceeding expansive exploration.

Reprising circular breathing in higher pitches on Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf, Parker`s soprano saxophone trills quickly carve a space for themselves within the windswept-like shrill patching and juddering oscillations plus aviary peeps that characterize the others’ program. From that point on the key is measuring how the ensemble keeps its fluid focus as the blurred wave forms and on/off buzzes, chattering bird-like calls and the rare acoustic instrument motif move from background to foreground and vice versa. Except for minor string slaps from bassist Linson, it’s Parker’s inventive expositions that break though the electronic blends, which, on a track such as “Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 3”, consolidate into a solid whistling friction that appears impenetrable. Tellingly though, Parker whose experience with computers and processing goes back to programs with his Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble in the 1990s, stoically maintains his place in the almost one-hour narrative. Very soon his reed peeps strengthen into multiphonics and the staccato overtones are soon prominent as well. This happens even as the interface thickens, the result of the turntablists further muddying development with whiffs of instrumental music and faint vocalizing, sometimes processed, plus metal screeching rubs and growls. Despite granular synthesis and frequent organ-like swells around him, Parker’s tongue flutters, key pops and corkscrew trills flow sometimes unaccompanied and sometimes live-processed leading to a wider spectral reach. By the time measured double bass strums aggressively make their presence felt again in the final “Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 7” the shape of the program have been established and surpassed. Out of the synthesized electronic mishmash where every texture seems to be sounding at the same time, Parker’s twitters and tweets surmount the other tones to finally deconstruct the narrative

In an acoustic or an electronic setting, after more than 50 years of recording, Parker is still ready to face and adapt to any challenge.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Calenture: 1. Calenture and Light Leaks 2. Baffled, Standing in the Air

Personnel: Calenture: Evan Parker (tenor saxophone) and Paul G. Smyth (piano)

Track Listing: Crepuscule: 1. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 1 2. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 2 3. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 3 4. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 4 5. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 5 6. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 6 7. Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf Part 7

Personnel: Crepuscule: Evan Parker (soprano saxophone); Adam Linson (bass, electronics); Matthew Wright (turntable, live sampling); John Coxon (turntable, electronics); Ashley Wales (electronics)