Evan Parker

Evan Shaw Parker (born 5 April 1944) is a British saxophone player who plays free jazz.

Evan Parker
Moers Festival, 2012
Background information
Birth nameEvan Shaw Parker
Born (1944-04-05) 5 April 1944
Bristol, England
GenresJazz, free jazz, free improvisation
Associated actsIrene Schweizer, Barry Guy, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Globe Unity Orchestra

Recording and performing prolifically with many collaborators, Parker was a pivotal figure in the development of European free jazz and free improvisation. He has pioneered or substantially expanded an array of extended techniques. Critic Ron Wynn describes Parker as "among Europe's most innovative and intriguing saxophonists...his solo sax work isn't for the squeamish."[1]

Early influences

Parker's original inspiration was Paul Desmond,[2] and in recent years the influence of cool jazz saxophone players has again become apparent in his music — there are tributes to Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz on Time Will Tell (ECM, 1993) and Chicago Solo (Okka Disk, 1997).

Later work

Parker is better known, however, for his later work, which rapidly assimilated the American avant-garde — John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler and others — and forged his own, instantly identifiable style.[1] His music of the 1960s and 1970s involves fluttering, swirling lines that have shape rather than tangible melodic content; sometimes he makes use of pure sound in a manner that recalls Steve Lacy's more radical 1970s recordings or the work of some Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) members.[3] He began to develop methods of rapidly layering harmonics and false notes to create dense contrapuntal weaves; these involved experiments with plastic reeds, circular breathing and rapid tonguing which initially were so intense that he would find blood dripping onto the floor from the saxophone. He also became a member of the big band, the Brotherhood of Breath.[4]

Parker has also increasingly become interested in electronics, usually through inviting collaborators such as Phil Wachsmann, Walter Prati, Joel Ryan, Lawrence Casserley or Matthew Wright to process his playing electronically, creating a feedback loop and shifting soundscape.[2]


Parker has recorded a large number of albums both solo or as a group leader, and has recorded or performed with Peter Brötzmann,[5] Michael Nyman, John Stevens, Derek Bailey, Keith Rowe, Joe McPhee, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Ikue Mori, Thurston Moore, Cyro Baptista, Milford Graves, George Lewis, Tim Berne, Mark Dresser, Dave Holland, Sylvie Courvoisier, and many others. Two key associations have been pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's trio with Parker and drummer Paul Lovens (documented on recordings such as Pakistani Pomade and Elf Bagatellen) and a trio with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton.[6][7] On Parker's 50th birthday, these two bands played a set apiece at a London concert; the results were issued by Leo Records as the 50th Birthday Concert.[8]

Parker, Bailey, and drummer Tony Oxley founded Incus Records in 1970.[9] The label continued under Bailey's sole control after a falling-out between the two men in the early 1980s. Currently Parker curates Psi Records,[2] which is issued through Martin Davidson's Emanem Records.

Although Parker's central focus is free improvisation, he has also appeared in conventional jazz contexts, such as Charlie Watts's big band and Kenny Wheeler's ensembles, and participated in Gavin Bryars's recording After the Requiem, performing the composition "Alaric I or II" as part of a saxophone quartet.[10]

Parker has recently contributed to David Sylvian's releases Manafon and Died in the Wool.[11]

Pop music

He also has appeared in pop-music contexts: on Scott Walker's Climate of Hunter, and on dubesque albums with Jah Wobble, the adventurous drum n bass duo Spring Heel Jack and rock group Spiritualized. He appeared on the b-side to Vic Reeves and The Wonderstuff's UK 1991 number one hit "Dizzy", performing saxophone on "Oh, Mr Songwriter" (based around "Vic Reeves Big Night Out" TV show end theme song).[12] At one point during a sax solo, Vic can be heard shouting "Pack it in, Parker!".

Parker has also made notable appearances on record with Robert Wyatt.[13]

Evan Parker playing in Aarhus, Denmark 2010


As leader/co-leader

As sideman

With Derek Bailey

  • The London Concert (Incus, 1976)
  • Compatibles (Incus, 1986)

With Han Bennink

  • The Grass is Greener (Psi, 2000)

With Borah Bergman

With Paul Bley

With Anthony Braxton

With Peter Brötzmann

With Gavin Bryars

  • After the Requiem (ECM, 1991)

With Lawrence Casserley

  • Solar Wind (Touch, 1997)
  • Dividuality (Maya, 1997)

With Marilyn Crispell

  • Natives and Aliens (Leo, 1997)
  • After Appleby (Leo, 1999)

With Alvin Curran

  • In Real Time (Ictus, 1978)

With Pierre Favre

  • Pierre Favre Quartet (Wergo, 1970)

With Joe Gallivan

With the Globe Unity Orchestra

  • Hamburg 1974 (FMP, 1974)
  • Rumbling (FMP, 1976)
  • Pearls (FMP, 1977)
  • Jahrmarkt/Local Fair (Po Torch, 1977)
  • Improvisations (JAPO, 1978)
  • Compositions (JAPO 1979)
  • Intergalactic Blow (JAPO, 1982)
  • 20th Anniversary (FMP, 1986)
  • Globe Unity 2002(Intakt, 2002)

With Barry Guy/The London Jazz Composers' Orchestra

  • Ode (Incus, 1972)

With Paul Haines

  • Darn It! (American Clavé, 1993)

With Tony Hymas - Barney Bush

  • Left for Dead (nato, 1995)

With Steve Lacy

  • Saxophone Special (Emanem, 1975)
  • Chirps (FMP, 1985)
  • Three Blokes with Lol Coxhill (FMP, 1994)

With Chris McGregor

  • Chris McCregor Septet. Up to Earth, 1969 (Fledg'ling, 2008)
  • Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath Live at Willisau (Ogun, 1974)
  • Procession (Ogun, 1978)

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Louis Moholo

  • Spirits Rejoice! (Ogun, 1978)
  • Bush Fire (Ogun, 1995)

With The Music Improvising Company

  • The Music Improvising Company (ECM, 1970)
  • The Music Improvising Company 1968-1971 (Incus, 1976)

With Michael Nyman

With Tony Oxley

With Jean-François Pauvros

  • Master Attack (nato, 1987)

With Eddie Prévost

  • Most Materiall (Matchless, 1997)

With Manfred Schoof

  • European Echoes (FMP, 1969)

With Alexander von Schlippenbach

  • Pakistani Pomade (FMP, 1973)
  • Three Nails Left (FMP, 1975)
  • The Hidden Peak (FMP, 1977)
  • Detto fra de Noi (Po Torch, 1982)
  • Anticlockwise (FMP, 1983)
  • Das Hohe Lied (Po Torch, 1991)
  • Elf Bagatellen (FMP, 1991)
  • Physics (FMP, 1996)
  • Compete Combustion (FMP, 1998)
  • Swinging the Bim (FMP, 1998)
  • Gold is Where You Find It (Intakt, 2007)

With the Spontaneous Music Ensemble

With Spring Heel Jack

  • Masses (Thirsty Ear, 2001)
  • Amassed (Thirsty Ear, 2002)
  • Live (Thirsty Ear, 2003)
  • The Sweetness of the Water (Thirsty Ear, 2004)

With John Stevens

  • Corner to Corner (Ogun, 1993)

With David Sylvian

  • Manafon (Samadhi Sound, 2009)
  • Died In The Wool (Samadhi Sound, 2011)

with Cecil Taylor

With Stan Tracey

  • Suspensions and Anticipations (Psi, 2003)

With Scott Walker

With Charlie Watts

  • Vol pour Sidney (nato, 1991)

With Kenny Wheeler

With Robert Wyatt

With Dave Holland


  1. Wynn, Ron. "Evan Parker: Biography". allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  2. "Evan Parker". European Free Improvisation Pages. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  3. Lewis, George E. (2008). A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. University of Chicago Press. p. 457. ISBN 9780226477039.
  4. "Brotherhood of Breath". Cuneiform Records. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  5. Fordham, John (22 November 2010). "50 great moments in jazz: Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun". Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  6. Fordham, John (23 July 2015). "Evan Parker/Alex von Schlippenbach: 3 Nights at Cafe Oto review – a fine free-improv treat". Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  7. "Evan Parker / Sten Sandell / John Edwards / Paul Lytton". Vortex. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  8. "Evan Parker 50th Birthday Concert". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  9. "Incus Records". Discogs. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  10. "After the Requiem". Qobuz. Archived from the original on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. Kelman, John. "David Sylvian: Died In The Wool - Manafon Variations". All About Jazz. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  12. Smith, Stewart. "Complicated Sublimity: Evan Parker Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  13. "Evan Parker sets his jazz free". The Herald. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
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