A Fireside Chat with Evan Parker
AAJ: Through the years, you have had a close association with Paul Lytton.
EP: I met Paul under very strange circumstances at the Open Air Festival in Birmingham. I was playing with John Stevens in a duo. At that point, the SME in live situations was a duo. In fact, the band on Karyobin (Kenny Wheeler, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Dave Holland, John Stevens), I don't think ever did a live gig. It was conceived for the record between John and myself. At that point, the SME in a live situation was a duo between John and myself. We played opposite a big band, which still exists, called the National Youth's Jazz Orchestra, which represents the conventional route for aspiring young jazz musicians. That is the pinnacle of their aspirations, in the sense that it is very rigorous. You have to read very well and you have to improvise very well to get into that band as a young player. Paul Lytton, I think, was the second drummer. As a young man, he was the second drummer in that band. Obviously, he had reading chops and the conventional jazz chops to be playing in that band, but at the same time, he was interested in what John and I were doing. So he came over and talked to John and to me and we stayed in touch. We started to make rehearsals. I think we rehearsed for about a year before we gave our first performance together. Yeah, we have collaborated on different things ever since.
AAJ: And many of those recordings are being released on your Psi label in conjunction with Emanem, Martin Davidson's label.
EP: Yeah, the thing I call Psi is my label. Martin is responsible for all the administrative side of the label. The musical content and the decision about the releases is entirely my province and Martin is very supportive of that.
AAJ: You have released eight titles.
EP: It is eight. One has come out since I have been away. Martin sent an email to say that the eighth one is out now and there will be several more this year. I can't say exactly how many, but it could be as many as four or five.
AAJ: How extensive do you plan on making the Psi catalog?
EP: The old historic stuff, there are piles of them. That is not what the label is about. It is at least as important to me to do new things as to put the old stuff out. But we are trying to do both things in a balanced way.
AAJ: Lines Burnt in Light, one of the initial Psi releases is a testament to that.
EP: I was very pleased with that one. I think it took less than a month to get it out, from the time it was recorded to the time it was released. Then I became very excited about working with Martin because he can be incredibly efficient. I am not always fast enough to keep up with him. He is an amazing character and the way that he can work on projects and his own label, Emanem, is great evidence of what I am saying.
AAJ: What is the Psi release schedule for the remainder of this year?
EP: There is a double CD from a festival that I play every year in England. It's in the north of England in a place called Appleby. Certainly, in time for this year's festival, the double CD from last year's festival will be out and that is combinations of eight musicians, myself plus Sylvia Hallett, violinist and she also sings on that, Phillipp Wachsmann, violin, John Edwards, bass, Mark Sanders, percussion, Marcio Mattos, cello, John Rangecroft on clarinet, and Neil Metcalfe on flute. There is an octet piece, a string quartet piece, a quartet by the other players, and a sequence of duos, trios, and solos. I think Sylvia Hallett has a solo. It is very representative of the concert that I was very happy with. That will be one thing. Then I am working on a Ray Warleigh record with Ray. Ray is a fantastic alto player that is totally under-recorded, something equivalent to the Gerd Dudek record stylistically and the motivation behind it was coming from the same place in my mind. There are certain people that have been horribly under-recorded over the years and however, symbolic my efforts are, they do, at least something, to rectify that situation. We just finished up a Kenny Wheeler project. It has taken about nine visits to the studio and Kenny is very critical of his own work. I think we've got something now that he won't admit to being happy with, but at least he is not unhappy with it. I think it is one of the best things he has ever done. There might be a reissue, also some Kenny Wheeler material from the past. We're talking about that. I've got different projects from visits to Japan. There's an electro-acoustic quartet with Paul Lytton, Joel Ryan, and Lawrence Casserley. There's a big pile of material there that I am very happy with. And then there is concert from another visit to Japan where Otomo and Sachiko M. played at the Pitt-Inn in Tokyo. I would like to see that come out. There is really plenty of stuff there.
AAJ: Is there a line that improvised music can cross where too much electronics is employed?
EP: I am very interested in finding out where those lines are and sometimes moving them. Too much is never a thing that worries me. I am not really a minimalist. In fact, the full scale Electro-Acoustic Ensemble has a third release finished for ECM. I am hoping it will be released in the fall. It has been finished since sometime earlier this year. We have to wait and see how ECM times the release of that. The best indications are they are thinking of possibly before the end of the year.