Evan Parker was born in Bristol in 1944 and began to play the saxophone at the age of 14. Initially he played alto
and was an admirer of Paul Desmond; by 1960 he had switched to tenor and soprano, following the example of John
Coltrane, a major influence who, he would later say, determined "my choice of everything". In 1962 he went to
Birmingham University to study botany but a trip to New York, where he heard the Cecil Taylor trio (with Jimmy
Lyons and Sunny Murray), prompted a change of mind. What he heard was "music of a strength and intensity to mark
me for life ... l came back with my academic ambitions in tatters and a desperate dream of a life playing that kind of
music - 'free jazz' they called it then."
Parker stayed in Birmingham for a time, often playing with pianist Howard Riley