Among Europe's most innovative and intriguing saxophonists, Evan Parker's solos and playing style are distinguished by his creative use of circular breathing and false fingering. Parker can generate furious bursts, screeches, bleats, honks, and spiraling lines and phrases, and his solo sax work isn't for the squeamish. He's one of the few players not only willing but eager to demonstrate his affinity for late-period John Coltrane. Parker worked with a Coltrane-influenced quartet in Birmingham in the early '60s. Upon resettling in London in 1965, he began playing with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. He joined them in 1967 and remained until 1969. Parker met guitarist Derek Bailey while in the group, and the duo formed the Music Improvisation Company in 1968. Parker played with them until 1971, and also began working with the Tony Oxley Sextet in the late '60s. Parker started playing extensively with other European free music groups in the '70s, notably the Globe Unity Orchestra, as well as its founder Alexander von Schlippenbach's trio and quartet. Parker, Bailey, and Oxley co-formed Incus Records in 1970 and continued operating it through the '80s. Parker also played with Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and other groups with Bailey, and did duet sessions with John Stevens and Paul Lytton, as well as giving several solo concerts. Parker's albums as a leader and his collaborations are all for various foreign labels; they can be obtained through diligent effort and mail-order catalogs. Among his many releases are Process and Reality (1991), Breaths and Heartbeats (1995), Obliquities (1995), Bush Fire (1997), Here Now (1998), Drawn Inward (1999), Monkey Puzzle (2000), Two Seasons (2000), Alder Brook (2003), and After Appleby (2004). Eleventh Hour, officially credited to the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, appeared from ECM in 2005. Parker released Time Lapse, his debut on John Zorn’s Tzadik in 2006, along with Crossing the River, and Topography of the Lungs on his own PSI imprint. 2007 was equally prolific with three albums on three different labels including A Glancing Blow on Cleanfeed; the label also issued Belle Ville in 2008. Parker self-released Free Zone Appleby 2007 on PSI to round the year out. He made his debut on the Smalltown Superjazz imprint with Brewery Tap in 2009, as well as A Moment’s Energy with his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble on ECM and his Tzadik follow-up, House Full of Floors, a trio recording with John Edwards on bass and John Russell on acoustic guitar, and help from Aleks Kolkowski on a couple of tracks utilizing a wax cylinder recorder, and playing the saw.
Among the numerous albums that featured Parker's name as a leader of co-leader in 2010, Two Chapters and an Epilogue with pianist John Tilbury was especially noteworthy, as were Twine with saxophonist Urs Leimgruber and Scenes in the House of Music, with Barry Guy, Lytton, and Peter Evans. In 2011, he appeared as part of a quartet with Mark Nauseef, Ikue Mori, and Bill Laswell on Near Nadir for Tzadik. Meetings with Remarkakble Saxophonists, Vol. 1 with John Edwards and Eddie Prévost was released on Matchless in the spring of 2012, followed by two Psi recordings: Hasselt with the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, and a reissue of The Topography of the Lungs from 2006. In 2013, the concert recording Live at Maya Recordings Festival with the Guy/Lytton Trio was issued on Lithuania's NoBusiness label, followed by What/If/They Both Could Fly, a duet album with Joe McPhee on Rune Grammophon. ~ Ron Wynn & Thom Jurek