Evan Parker: Whitstable Solo (2010)
The music on Whitstable Solo flows like a force of nature. It reaches gale force at times, and finds saxophonist Evan Parker traversing myriad topographies with deft fingering and counterpoint so magical, despite the music's inevitable flow towards a conclusion. Parker also uses an extraordinary palette of colors that turn so vivid at times that the emotion of the music may turn on a dime, and yet he retains a tone that is controlled, only becoming mellow if the saxophonist allows it to do so. However, the intensity of his playing belies a warmth and softness that is almost romantic. To this extent it is conceivable that Parker is an old soul, exploring the possibility of recreating a canso of medieval times in an utterly modern context, as Harry Gilonis' liner notes suggest. Each solo could, indeed, be a stanza in the songalbeit longer than the older versionsas is the envoi tagged on at the end in the form of "Whitstable Solo α-ω."
Each solo is a vivid improvisation, whose poetics are as spectacular as they are rooted in the pure romance of using a saxophone to create a short intense episode depicting the palpable turmoil of love. Parker may suggest the heat and energy of a relationship so intense that the music itself rumbles and bubbles and eventually boils over in a volcanic rush, searing the memory with its harmonics. "Whitstable Solo 1," on the other hand, appears as if the saxophonist is screaming at the sky from the highest point of a mountain, announcing his efforts to unravel empirical mysteries with shrill mysticism. On "Whitstable 2" there is a distinct cooling off as the melody and its harmonics appear to be inverted, almost as if the musician were retracting his harsh empiricism. And so on from solo to solo and stanza to stanza, as Parker examines his relationship with the world and its universal truths and idiosyncrasies with untrammeled virtuosity.
This may be Parker's most challenging work yet, but then so was anything that Arnaut Daniel ever wrote, as was the work of Bertran de Born. Yet it is to be approached with equal elements of wonder and delight, as if entering a world both strange and delightful, and full of surprise.
Track Listing: Whitstable Solo 1; Whitstable Solo 2; Whitstable Solo 3; Whitstable 4; Whitstable Solo 5; Whitstable 6; Whitstable Solo 7; Whitstable Solo α-ω.
Personnel: Evan Parker: soprano saxophone.