Evan Parker was the first free jazz/improv saxophonist I ever heard, and the one who made me fall in love with this kind of music. Before I had heard Ayler, Braxton or Brötzmann, Parker was the one who showed me that the saxophone could be a source of great passion and intensity. Live, his serpentine solos and jaw-dropping circular breathing technique burned themselves into me in a way that very few rock performers had ever done.
It’s been a long time since I saw Parker live – there was a stimulating collaborative show with Zoviet France, a phenomenal trio gig at the old Vortex in Stoke Newington, and a concert in Brighton with Spring Heel Jack – so it was great for me to see him for the first time in Vienna, this time as part of his long-standing trio with pianist Alex von Schlippenbach and drummer Paul Lovens. Their improvisational instincts honed by many years of playing together, the trio proceeded to play two long and engrossing sets. Schlippenbach was an agile and eloquent pianist, Lovens an enthralling presence on the drums. Parker was the star for me, but at the end of the day this concert, like all the best group-based improvisation, was an extended conversation between these three gifted musicians.
That Spitz gig with :zoviet*france: remains in memory as one of the finest I’ve experienced. Supported by a young lass with an impressive set of yodelling pipes, one Dawn McCarthy who’d later reappear in Faun form.
Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the gig I was thinking of – I wasn’t at the Spitz that night. I saw Parker with ZF at the Conway Hall in 1996, possibly as part of the LMC Festival.
There I go making wild assumptions…
The Spitz gig was in 1997 and was fantastic, so I’m glad they’d previously had a chance to get a feel for each.