By Martin Schray
“Improvisation is a compositional method“ (Evan Parker)
Each December the Schlippenbach Trio (Alexander von Schlippenbach, Evan Parker and Paul Lovens), one of the most long-standing groups in free jazz, tour Germany on their so-called “winter journey”. They have been doing this for almost 40 years and I have become a regular at their concerts over the last ten years because my town is always on their schedule. You might suspect that it becomes boring to watch the same group every year, but it is the exact opposite, every year they are different. And it is always spectacular to watch them, Lovens mauling his drums and all the things he adds to his drum kit, Schlippenbach singing along with the clusters he plays … and it is particularly marvelous to watch Evan Parker. On his instrument he has a stellar reputation, his technical abilities are exquisite -- he has developed his own language on the saxophone.
But to me there is something else which makes him the unique figure he is in free jazz: it is his ability to listen. He just stands there, eyes closed, swaying slightly. He puts the tenor to his mouth, hesitating to play, putting it away again. He keeps on waiting for the right moment to contribute to the piece, he is even improvising with the group when he is not playing.
Since he has always been interested in new collaborations Parker’s oeuvre is huge, he has released hundreds of album and every year there are between ten and fifteen more. Here is a survey of his latest albums.