Thursday 28 September 2017, 7.30pm
Old music. Dead music. Music of Death. Music of the ancestors. Music of the silent. Vulnerable as the dodo to rats, cats and pigs, a vast number of extraordinary musical forms became extinct across the globe during the 20th century, preserved on a scant number of recordings. Alongside the extinctions there is an endangered list of largely ceremonial musics preserved or recreated as museum pieces, tourist attractions, a desperate bid to re-awaken cultural and political identity. Who cares? Not a lot of people, apparently.
Countering this indifference, Evan Parker and David Toop, both long-term collectors of such music, students and enthusiasts of its many forms, present the third of their Sharpen Your Needles performances. In a deep listening session interspersed with ruminations and the barest amount of information they play highlights from their personal vinyl collections of music from Korea, Africa, Japan, Tibet, India, Brazil, Java, Papua New Guinea and all points elsewhere.
“An absorbing and mesmeric sequence of full LP tracks, up to about 20 minutes in length . . . There was a hypnotic, trance-like thread running through these wonderful recordings from all corners of the world.” – Geoff Winston, London Jazz News.
David is a musician, author, professor and Chair of Audio Culture and Improvisation at London College of Communication.
He has published five books including Ocean of Sound, Rap Attack and Sinister Resonance. His first album, ‘New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments’, was released on Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975 and he has collaborated with artists ranging from John Latham, Bob Cobbing, Carlyle Reedy and Ivor Cutler to Rie Nakajima, Evan Parker, Max Eastley and Akio Suzuki.
He has recently completed part one of Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom, a two-volume work on free improvisation. Exhibitions and events he has curated include Music/Context Festival of Environmental Music for the LMC (1978), Sonic Boom for the Hayward Gallery (2000), sound curation for Radical Fashion at the V&A (2000-2001), Playing John Cage at the Arnolfini (2005) and Blow Up at Flat Time House (2010).
"If you've ever been tempted by free improvisation, Parker is your gateway drug." - Stewart Lee
Evan Parker has been a consistently innovative presence in British free music since the 1960s. Parker played with John Stevens in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, experimenting with new kinds of group improvisation and held a long-standing partnership with guitarist Derek Bailey. The two formed the Music Improvisation Company and later Incus Records. He also has tight associations with European free improvisations - playing on Peter Brötzmann's legendary 'Machine Gun' session (1968), with Alexander Von Schlippenbach and Paul Lovens (A trio that continues to this day), Globe Unity Orchestra, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, and Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO).
Though he has worked extensively in both large and small ensembles, Parker is perhaps best known for his solo soprano saxophone music, a singular body of work that in recent years has centred around his continuing exploration of techniques such as circular breathing, split tonguing, overblowing, multiphonics and cross-pattern fingering. These are technical devices, yet Parker's use of them is, he says, less analytical than intuitive; he has likened performing his solo work to entering a kind of trance-state. The resulting music is certainly hypnotic, an uninterrupted flow of snaky, densely-textured sound that Parker has described as "the illusion of polyphony". Many listeners have indeed found it hard to credit that one man can create such intricate, complex music in real time.