Evan Parker: Deciphering the Noise
Parker's comparative seniority could intimidate fellow performers, yet his figure suggests otherwise: on the friendlier side of burly, Parker is reassuringly large, his appearance caught somewhere between Santa and Gandalf. The position of "group elder" seems appropriate; Parker appears to retain no inherent desire to dominate proceedings, despite the opportunity. "I could probably carry situations through [a collective performance], like a senior figure in the scene," he says, "not through force of my personality, but by dint of my status..."
Yet do younger, brash performers allow Parker to guide them? "Well, I can indicate 'no,' we're not going there; that doesn't have to be spoken, it's just played," he says, scratching his beard in contemplation, "but someone could easily say, 'Oh yeah, you old fart? This is where we're going." He laughs, continuing, "It's like a real-time negotiation, the sound of people discussing what this should be about."
Having accommodated a series of well-worn questions, further discussion about the absurd complexities of collective improvisation will have to wait for another time. Despite showing little sympathy for those curious, competent swimmers flailing in an ocean of unfamiliarity, Parker has still provided a life preserver. Does he truly not care whether or not people "get" his music?
"I've got bigger worries," he says, leaning forward earnestly. "This 'Occupy' movement, for example, it's extraordinary to watch. I can quite easily imagine people having greater concerns than improvised music." He's right of course; yet for those of us that wish to step into these unfamiliar waters, Parker (perhaps unwittingly) has provided some pointers.
Evan Parker/Wes Neal/Joe Sorbara, At Somewhere There (Barnyard, 2012)
Parker/Lee/Evans, The Bleeding Edge (psi, 2011)
Evan Parker/konstryKt, Live at Akbank Jazz Festival (re: Konstrukt, 2011)
Evan Parker/Matthew Wright, Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed, 2010)
Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton, Nightwork: Live at the Sunset (Marge, 2010)
Evan Parker, Whitsable Solo (psi, 2010)