Review: Evan Parker 70th Birthday Celebration at Kings Place

Evan Parker - 70th Birthday Celebration at Kings Place
Photo Credit: Roger Thomas

Evan Parker: 70th Birthday Celebrations 
( Kings Place Hall One. 5th April 2014. Review by Lara Bellini)

Pianist Django Bates and his manager Jeremy Farnell, with Evan Parker himself, were the minds behind the celebratory concert staged on the day of Parker’s 70th birthday, in the acoustically magnificent Kings Place Hall One. Together they had assembled a cast of musicians who have crossed paths with the saxophonist over the years.

In the first set the musicians were invited on stage in permutations of quartet/trio/quartet (a collection of pointy, thrusting acrobatic improvisations).

Parker and his tenor only made one appearance, with his regular trio: he delivered open, airy, light phrasings that ran like water among the angular interstices shaped by John Russell’s dry, teething guitar and John Edwards’ big knotted gasps on the bass.

Absence continued as the theme shaping the second half: in a concert lacking a drum kit, Parker poignantly dedicated the set to late drummer John Stevens. With all the musicians now assembled on stage, the saxophonist was mainly in enabling mode, leaving the others room to express themselves, and rarely embracing the soprano. The collective relaxed in the regular breathing of quieter moments followed by explosive soundscapes, like the regular swelling of waves in the sea.

Coltrane, Cage came to mind, if peripherally: Parker’s unique collective language takes root in the cracks in the soil within that tradition.

The open soundscapes, the abstract shapes are dots the audience are free to connect.

Evan Parker - 70th Birthday Celebration at Kings Place
Photo Credit: Roger Thomas

Ending the performance, a few minutes' magnificent solo on soprano.

Evan Parker saxophones
Phillipp Wachsmann, Alison Blunt, Sylvia Hallett, Dylan Bates violin
Aleksander Kolkowski viola, stroh viola, wax cylinder recorder
Benedict Taylor viola
Hannah Marshall, Alice Eldridge, Marcio Mattos 'cello
John Russell guitar
John Edwards, David Leahy bass
Django Bates piano, peck horn
Percy Pursglove trumpet
John Rangecroft clarinet
Neil Metcalfe flute

Sebastian interviewed Evan Parker about this celebration.

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