Few copies back in stock, totally sold-out at the source ** Milestone reissue. Edition of 250 copies, deluxe box. ** Of all the incredible players that have emerged from Great Britain’s thriving improvised music scene, few have made a mark equal to that of the saxophonist Evan Parker. A pivotal figure in the development of European free jazz and free improvisation, as well as a pioneer of extended technique, he is a legend. His catalog of recordings - solo, collaborative, and those documenting his work in the bands of his peers - is roughly 500 albums deep, representing a free-standing canon of avant-garde, music unto itself. Among Parker’s most sought after records are those he made for Incus, the independent label, founded in 1970, that he co-ran with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley. Of those, among the most striking are his first 4 solo LPs - Saxophone Solos, The Snake Decides, Monoceros and Six of One - which were gathered by Incus in 1989 for a special deluxe box-set issue, under the title Collected Solos, further expanded to include a cassette featuring extra cuts from the sessions at FMP studios from the Saxophone Solos session, and an accompanying booklet written by the late writer, Paul Haines. The label only released 200 copies, relegating it to holy grail collector status ever since. Now, thankfully, Otoroku - the amazing imprint run by Cafe Oto in London - presents the first ever reissue of this towering artifact of European free improvised music. Released in a very limited numbered edition of 250 copies, in a deluxe, screen printed box, this one isn’t going to sit around for long, and is an absolute must.
Evan Parker first emerged onto the London scene during the mid-1960s as a member of Spontaneous Music Ensemble, a loose collective of improvisers founded by John Stevens and Trevor Watts, endeavouring to explore new forms of group collaboration and experimentation. Parker’s earliest recorded release was within the group on their legendary 1968 LP, Karyobin, playing alongside Stevens, Derek Bailey, Dave Holland and Kenny Wheeler, laying the groundwork for an incredibly prolific period ahead. In the coming years would forge collaborations across Europe and at home, working within the Pierre Favre Quartet, Instant Composers Pool, Globe Unity Orchestra, Brotherhood of Breath, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, and Company - the rotating group he helped found with Derek Bailey - as well as in the bands of Peter Brötzmann, Manfred Schoof, and Alex von Schlippenbach, not to mention recording the towering The Topography of the Lungs with Bailey and Han Bennink.
In 1976, Parker released Saxophone Solos, a milestone in his career, on Incus, the imprint he had founded with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley. It was to be the first of a body of visionary recordings for solo saxophone to appear across the next decade, including Monoceros from 1978, 1982’s Six of One, and The Snake Decides, issued in 1986. These albums belong to what was an emerging body of solo instrumental practice, largely being pioneered by American improvisors, particularly members of the AACM like Anthony Braxton - who, In 1969, recorded For Alto (1971), the first full-length album for unaccompanied saxophone - Roscoe Mitchell, and Muhal Richard Abrams, as well as Cecil Taylor, and others. These recordings, remarkably ambitious in scope and undertaking, places their creators far out on a limb with only their own actions and ideas to guide their way.
With Derek Bailey, Parker was among the earliest European adopters of solo-improvised recordings, establishing a new evolution is the sound and practice, and this shows vibrantly across the body of recordings that comprise Otoroku’s reissue of the seminal Collected Solos box set. While evolving and pushing over the years of each album’s respective release, Parker’s playing is remarkably cohesive, forming a seamless body over the entirety of the set. From the first note, he sets a blazing fire of intricate, intertwining structures that channel an astounding sense of emotive resonance and depth. Across each LP, the ear is immersed in a complex assault of revelatory tone, channeling an almost shamanistic intensity that increasingly, as the years unfold, makes nods to the soulfulness and arching lines of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, and Albert Ayler, while remaining Parker’s voice alone. It only takes a single listen to dispel all wonder about why he's regarded as one of the most important and singular players in the field.
A truly stunning accomplishment on the part of Otoroku, Collected Solos is easily one of the most exciting reissues of the year. Gathering all four of Evan Parker’s seminal solo releases for Incus, plus a cassette featuring extra cuts from the sessions at FMP studios from the Saxophone Solos session, and an accompanying booklet written by the late writer, Paul Haines, issued in a deluxe, screen printed box, in edition of 250 copies, it is, as it was when it was first released in 1989, a towering artifact of European free improvised music. This is an incredibly rare chance to get your hands on what became Parker’s last release with Incus, following his falling out with Derek Bailey. We can’t possibly sing the praises of this one enough. Stocks are limited, so it’s not going to sit around for long. Act fast, before it’s gone again for good.