Whitstable Solo is the first Evan Parker solo soprano saxophone recording since Lines Burnt in Light inaugurated his Psi label back in late 2001. Since then, the label has steadily rereleased Parker's earlier solo soprano albums, with the notable exception of Monoceros (Incus, 1978; Chronoscope, 1999).
Culled largely from a July, 2008 performance at the Whitstable Biennale event with artist Polly Read and filmmaker Neil Hendersonseven tracks taken from the concert and one from before the audience arrivedWhitstable Solo was recorded in St. Peter's church by engineer Adam Skeating. Tellingly, since this recording, St. Peter's has become Parker's studio of choice because of its great acoustics.
Given the scope of Parker's solo soprano recordings, trying to set a new one in context is not a fruitful venture. Increasingly, as with many other greats, the only sensible advice to someone enquiring where to begin listening to Parker is to start anywhere but hear the lotadvice particularly true of his solo recordings. Taken as a body of work, each part makes sense alone, while contributing to greater appreciation of the whole.
So it is with Whitstable Solo; it makes no sense to ask where it stands in comparison to Parker's past recordings. It stands alone but amplifies the rest, containing elements that will be recognizable to anyone familiar with that past. These include Parker's subtle interactions with the acoustics and resonances of the recording space, and his use of circular breathing to build an irresistible, kaleidoscopic barrage of sound that can induce a trance-like state. Such elements are often the ones that are latched onto after initial exposure to Parker's soprano, however, there is far more here than those most obvious aspects. Not least is the melodic content of several of the pieces; without playing any obvious theme, Parker spins out melodic linesrepeating and exploring those that appealcreating an overall effect similar to the carefree sound and feel of birdsong. Simply beautiful.
Personnel: Evan Parker: soprano saxophone.