Evan Parker | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Evan Parker


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You might be able to find saxophonists who play louder, prettier, or stranger, but when it comes to imaginative range and technical virtuosity, no one can touch Evan Parker. His vocabulary on tenor and soprano horns includes sere whispers, gruff barks, absurdly distorted cries, and exquisitely articulated tones as polished as anything Paul Desmond ever played for Dave Brubeck. A master manipulator of the acoustics of horns and performance spaces, he's also been exploring the potential of electronic processing for more than 15 years. By using circular breathing he can abandon the wind player's customary unit of time, sustaining an unbroken flow of swirling, jostling notes and overtones for half an hour at a stretch; at the other end of that scale, he plays atomized improvisations with bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Paul Lytton, two of his longtime collaborators, where it sounds like everyone's renegotiating the content and direction of the music many times each second. Parker has long argued that composition and improvisation are part of the same process, and his new Time Lapse (Tzadik) approaches that proposition from both sides. Half its pieces are soprano solos, some of which turn the unruly instrument's tendency to squeak into a blessing--he plays two independent sound streams simultaneously, one of conventional notes, the other a controlled whistle. The other half are extensively overdubbed composites of improvised tracks that complement each other as though they were rigorously scored. Tonight Parker will duet with fellow reedist Ned Rothenberg, then play in a quartet with electronic musician Kevin Drumm, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten (see the Meter). This show is part of the Umbrella Music Festival; for a complete schedule see page TK. a 10 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, $10 suggested donation. A

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