Evan Parker Six Of One Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Reissue of long unavailable solo soprano session from the great Evan Parker.

John Eyles 2002

This release is very welcome; not only because it puts a popular and highly regarded Evan Parker solo album back into circulation, but also because it is the first time Parker's own Psi label has reissued any of his classic Incus recordings.

Incus was the hugely influential label that Parker, Derek Bailey & Tony Oxley set up in 1970 to release music by themselves and like-minded improvisers. The releases by Parker on Incus are one of the cornerstones on which his monumental reputation has been built, but since he and Incus parted company in the late 80s they have been unobtainable (except for two reissues on Chronoscope).

By the time of this recording, Parker had been giving improvised solo soprano sax concerts for about five years; his techniques and working methods were becoming well developed. For instance, he experiments with polyphonics, and he uses his trademark circular breathing method to produce sustained passages of fluent playing.

Six of One was originally recorded and released in 1980. Exquisitely recorded by Adam Skeaping at St. Judes on the Hill church in London, it faithfully captures all of the filigree detail of Parker's playing, particularly at the all-important high frequencies. It also captures the slight echoes and resonances of the church, giving a real sense of the performance space. (In this respect, one is reminded of this years Lines Burnt in Light, recorded at All Angels.)

The album consists of six relatively short pieces (shortest 4 36", longest 11 46") that have a consistency of sound and approach, sounding like different facets of one larger whole, and so hang together almost like a suite. (Presumably, this is what is implied by the original album title.) A seventh piece from the same session, previously unreleased, has been included here, and is wholly compatible, presumably only being omitted originally because of lack of space.

Parker's solo soprano work has continued to develop and evolve over time, acquiring even greater variety, confidence and sheer stamina. To compare this album with Lines Burnt in Light is illuminating. This early album is like one of the sketchbooks for that later masterpiece. Both are essential listening and each enhances understanding of the other.

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