Summation of a career
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 08/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 2-CD set documents the two longest-standing small-group associations of Evan Parker's career, in a concert recorded live on Parker's 50th birthday. It is thus perhaps the single best place to start for a listener unacquainted with Parker's work. Disc 1 has the Alex von Schlippenbach trio, with Schlippenbach on piano and Paul Lovens on drums--two long tracks find them moving from free-jazz blowouts to lyrical passages; the bridge between the two tracks is one of Parker's patented circular-breathing soprano solos. It's colourful, engaging music, in which the musicians play unfettered but with a strong sense of developing form (for instance, Schlippenbach neatly ties up the second improvisation with a recapitulation of his opening figures). Disc 2 has the trio with Barry Guy on bass and Paul Lytton on drums; this is darker & more enigmatic music, multidirectional & unpredictable. Like all Parker/Guy/Lytton performances it is packed with much more detail than most other improvisors can manage, so that in listening to it again and again you discover new details & turns of phrase that passed by you before.This 2-CD set suggests how perhaps Parker's most impressive achievements are those of the 1990s (which isn't to denigrate his earlier work); that's a decade that saw a stream of remarkable discs from him--_Time Will Tell_, _Most Materiall_, the 1993 duos with Anthony Braxton, _Conic Sections_, _Chicago Solos_, _Imaginary Values_, _Towards the Margins_.... It's a decade that saw him also gain much more recognition from the jazz world, with reviews of his work regularly appearing in journals like _Downbeat_. It's nice to see a major artist achieve recognition precisely when he's at his peak. The _50th Birthday Concert_ is an excellent encapsulation of his achievement as a musician, and an engaging introduction to his work."
Evan Parker and free improvisation
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 12/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Evan Parker's improbable career, which he summarizes in the liner notes to this superb 2-disc live recording, begins at the origins of the European free improv tendency, and intersects virtually everything of importance within that tendency along the way. The older names were better, weren't they? Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Music Improvisation Company, Iskra 1903, AMM, convey the spirit of this music much more accurately than "The Schlippenbach Trio" or "The Parker/Guy/Lytton" trio. But don't let the retreat from countercultural monikers fool you, this is wild, uncompromising music played by individuals who have heroically persevered all these years. Parker performs and records regularly with all sorts of musicians, (even including Robert Wyatt and Jah Wobble in recent years!), but what we have here is two ensembles of long duration -- players who have developed a depth of communication, a telepathic understanding of one another, and who can therefore sculpt sounds in ways unimaginable to those who think free jazz/improv is nothing but crazy noise. The "50th Birthday Concert" is outstanding, not to be missed! For other superb EP recordings (and some are not), see my "The Evan Parker Dimension.""