Evan Parker Photo: Mark Weber
PERFORMANCE OF OCTOBER 30, 1978 at Keystone Korner, San Francisco | PERFORMANCE OF NOVEMBER 1 & 2, 1978 at Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley. | PERFORMANCE OF NOVEMBER 3, 1978 at the Creative Dance Theatre, Berkeley. | All of the above: Evan Parker /soprano and tenor saxophones.
Evan Parker / soprano saxophone.
Recorded direct-to-disc April 30, 1978.
Evan Parker appeared in San Francisco and Berkeley on the last leg of a four week solo tour of Canada and the U.S.
His playing is moving more in cycles than ever before, closely akin to a kind of repetition music, but never as straightforward as that. The weight of it is always shifting from one of its two or three or four (!) simultaneous levels to another, one part dropping out here, another being added, the sound tilting this way and that. It was an extremely mobile music and highly rhythmic, a wide-open harmonic and textural collage moving in and out of phase with itself, the sounds and their cricket-like quickness often suggesting an electric sound source; at the same time, it seemed not that far removed from the way several conga drummers might make music. So it was highly ritualistic music, at times bringing to mind the sound of bagpipes or of the Indian shenai, and almost shamanistic in its insistence (that being due in no small part to Parker’s extensive circular breathing technique) and in its physicalness. This was best displayed at the Finger Palace, the living-room performing space of pianist Greg Goodman, where Parker’s sounds ricocheted off the hard wood floors, caroming around and about the small enclosure, playing sounds in our ears (sometimes just out of sync with each other) seemingly independent of those coming from the instrument itself.
As far as I could tell, the music was not fundamentally different in kind from some of that on the Saxophone Solos LP (Incus 19, see review above), but the range of sounds, both possible and available at any given moment, has increased enormously, and the complexity of their interactions has reached monumental proportions. A good sense of it can be heard on the Monoceros record, though I think now it is even beyond that. The direct-to-disc process used for the LP, however – the music was recorded from a single stereo microphone placed in such a way as to most convincingly reproduce the natural acoustics of the room – does convey much of the physicalness of it. There’s perhaps a bit less clarity of up-front saxophone sound for being recorded this way; but, played at a high volume, Monoceros is as close a duplication of the way the music sounds in performance as you might hope to hear.
As on record, the performances mainly included Parker’s soprano work, but the tenor was used occasionally. Its vocabulary, of course, was well beyond the conventional discourse, but the instrument is not so inherently quick or agile as the smaller horn on which, it seemed to me, Parker’s most far reaching statements were made.
The second sets at the Finger Palace also featured duets with Parker (on tenor) and Greg Goodman, piano, and at the Creative Dance Theatre with Henry Kuntz, tenor saxophone, and with Henry Kaiser, electric guitar (Parker playing soprano with Kaiser), and a trio with Parker, soprano, and Kuntz and Kaiser. Henry Kaiser also played solo guitar between sets, and he left here with Parker to do two concerts with him in Vancouver.
Henry Kuntz, 1978
Note: Evan Parker’s November 2,1978 performance was made available on LP as Evan Parker at the Finger Palace (The Beak Doctor 3/Metalanguage 110). Recordings made with Greg Goodman on November 1 & 2 are reviewed further on. “All Beak Doctor notes by Greg Goodman”
Evan Parker recordings on Greg Goodman’s The Beak Doctor
BD5&6: THE SOCIAL/SCIENCE SET (CD)
Bruce Ackley, Derek Bailey, Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Toshinori Kondo, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Jon Raskin, and Andrew Voigt. Recorded October, 1980 The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, and 1750 Arch Street Studio, Berkeley, California, USA
This CD is a reissue of two vinyl records: Volume 1: The Social Set and Volume 2: The Science Set, recorded in 1980, October 19 and 21, respectively. They were produced by The Beak Doctor/Metalanguage Records (originated by Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser and Larry Ochs in 1978) during The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music: a scrummage of musicians who had previously recorded on the label.
Volume 1 consists of two extended whole-group pieces and was recorded at Arch Street Studios in Berkeley, California.
Volume 2 was recorded in performance at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, a grand hall with lots of age and rubbed-off gold. We got the feeling, gazing from the stage at the high ceilings above the wrap-around box seating, that it was The Roman Coliseum. If we squeezed into our Lion costumes, we could make a night of it. The contests were in duos, trios, quartets, and an occasional solo: someone battling himself.
This reissue is configured to fit the dubious prerogatives of compact disc technology. (Two records cannot be squeezed into a turnip nor can Cinderella’s shoe fit into the CD player.) As Woody’s Great Great Grandfather, Woodrow W. Woodman used to say, “You can’t step into the same river twice and not get your feet wet, where am I?”
It is truly grand ensemble playing, and we are saying that by myself.
BD6: The Science Set — The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music 1980, Volume 2 (LP)
Derek Bailey, Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Toshinori Kondo, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Jon Raskin, and Andrew Voigt. Recorded October 21, 1980 The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, California, USA
The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music brought together a scrummage of musicians who had previously recorded on The Beak Doctor/Metalanguage label.
The Science Set was recorded in performance on October 21, 1980, at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, a grand hall with lots of age and rubbed-off gold. We got the feeling, gazing from the stage at the high ceilings above the wrap-around box seating, that it was The Roman Coliseum. If we squeezed into our Lion costumes, we could make a night of it. The contests were in duos, trios, quartets, and an occasional solo: someone battling himself.
BD5: The Social Set — The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music 1980, Volume 1 (LP)
Bruce Ackley, Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Toshinori Kondo, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Jon Raskin, and Andrew Voigt. Recorded October 19, 1980 1750 Arch Street Studio, Berkeley, California, USA
The Social Set consists of two extended whole-group pieces and was recorded in 1980 during The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music: a scrummage of musicians who had previously recorded on The Beak Doctor/Metalanguage label.
This music was revealed in the hills above Berkeley (1750 Arch Street Studio) and was a full-blown, all-day affair. We probably ate pizza.
BD3: Evan Parker at the Finger Palace (LP)
Evan Parker: Soprano Saxophone Solo, Recorded November 2, 1978. Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley, California, USA
Some say their lives were changed, others say their ears were cleaned beyond recognition; some began practicing their instruments, others gave them up completely. But everyone was willing to pay more (than $3.00) to get into Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace after that.
“The Incredible Evan Parker, On Tour From England, Performing Extended Improvisations,” outmaneuvered the billing for that second night in November 1978. And fortunately for everyone, a very good recording was made and subsequently released in LP form as “Evan Parker at The Finger Palace.”
The record revealed Evan Parker’s mastery of the soprano saxophone in a brilliant 46-minute solo, which was broken into two parts for the disc and titled, appropriately, Fingerprints, Parts 1 & 2. It would be nice to reissue this glorious music in CD format, unified and unfaded in the middle, and The Beak Doctor is looking closely into the Mirror of Possibilities. But the LP record has always given pleasure beyond even the most peculiar of imaginations (the artwork on the cover, by Jean de Bosschère, is a perfect match to the music), and something must be said for flipping Evan over in the middle of his flipping us so magically. As Woody rightly prophesied at the time, “This Music Will Bend Your Pineal Gland Twice!” How did he know?
BD2: ABRACADABRA (LP)
Evan Parker: Tenor Saxophone, Greg Goodman: Unprepared Piano, Recorded November 1978. Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley, California, USA
The recording of ABRACADABRA in November of 1978 was one of the earlier ones at Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, which had just opened itself up to the public a few months before. Evan Parker had dark hair and Greg Goodman had some; things were slightly different in 2002 when they toured together (with George Cremaschi) in The Czech Republic. One thing clear from the last sentence is that Mr. Parker & Mr. Goodman have continued a somewhat strange and extended conversation for 25 years: from The Finger Palace to Prague (including an evening in Russian Mafia-run Karlovi Vary) in a twinkling of a note. There were other excursions in England and California/West Coast during the ‘80’s & ‘90’s, but 1978 saw their first encounter, and the music revealed was recorded in performances over two nights.
Side A of this vinyl (LP) recording has two pieces: “Aftercadabra” (7:43) and “Abracadaver” (10:16). Side B has an extended piece with the name “The Fly-Hog Replied With A Lisp…” (22:53), which was a line from Jean de Bosschère’s The City Curious and from which the cover art was also exhumed. All pieces were “composed” by Mr. Parker & Mr. Goodman in a delirious state of good taste, after having eaten what reluctantly must be described as a series of abundant and very satisfying meals.