Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet: Seven

29 06 2015

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet: Seven

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet: Seven

Seven (Victo CD 127)

Peter Evans / trompette piccolo, trompette, Okkyung Lee / violoncelle,  George Lewis / électroniques, trombone, Ikue Mori / électroniques, Sam Pluta / électroniques, Ned Rothenberg / clarinette basse, clarinette, shakuhachi, Evan Parker / saxophone soprano.
Recorded: Live at the 30th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville May 18th, 2014.

Seven presents a compact, slimmed down, lean version of Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. The expansive, texturally rich music of the septet brings to mind the edgy feel of early free improvisation.

Parker’s compositional method is simple:

“My art of composition consists in choosing the right people and asking them to improvise. The resulting music arises from this sequence of decisions.
My art of composition consists in choosing the right people and these are the right people”

Of course, it is not quite so simple; for choosing the “right people” entails a knowledge of who those people are and what they might bring to the improvisational discourse.

In this case, two of the acoustic instrumentalists – Rothenberg and Evans – are players who, in forging their own identities, have fully entered into Parker’s own mind-bending, circularly-probing musical methodology.

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet: Seven

The four electronics players (with Lewis doubling sparingly but incisively on trombone) approach the electro-acoustic gathering differently than the way players normally do in Parker’s large ElectroAcoustic Ensembles. While in those ensembles, the electronic players have been mainly signal or sound processors who primarily reshape and remold sounds of other ensemble members, here the electro musicians do that only moderately. Through varied technical means, they emit a distinctive particulated sound field that exists as an interactive but dimensional counterpoint to the acoustic instrumental output.

Much of the edginess of Seven stems directly from this. For while the performance (in two parts) has the feel of a true organically-arrived-at ensemble music, the respective acoustic and electro players – due to the entirely different manners in which they are producing sounds – follow different “logical” trajectories. The two “logics” together in the one musical space create a good deal of the music’s inner tension.

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet: Seven

It is worth noting that in early free improvisation – say from the period of Topography of the Lungs (Incus 1, July 1970) onward – much of the tension in the music – which is the push-and-pull between known and unknown, cohesion and dissolution – was due to the players’ courageous ongoing expansion of instrumental language. But players have pushed language to its virtual tipping point; so that what once sounded outrageous and demanding of innovative responses is now heard as commonplace. So presently, it seems, formal expansions – such as we hear in the collusion of logic differentials in this music – may be more the way forward.

To be sure, both the acoustic and electro musicians of Seven are at the top of their games. While there is an overarching dramatic contour to the music – it rises and falls, opens and closes, shifts densities – the whole unfolds with unselfconscious effortlessness; it feels unscripted and of the moment.

Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet: Seven

The acoustic players, while sensitive to each other, pursue the inner and outer ranges of their instruments with an independence tempered only by self-imposed structural imperatives. Evans’ trumpet frequently masks itself in electronic-sounding metallic and breathy slurs. Lee’s stringy cello pulls and tugs at the direction of the ensemble or gets lost in staccato electro barrages. Rothenberg opens and ends the long first piece on shakuhachi which, in the midst of atmospheric electro rumblings, might pass for music from a Japanese sci-fi samurai film. And Parker – always a sympathetic co-conspirator – lends full support to his musical compatriots on his most agile instrument, the soprano saxophone, which he alternately rides to levels approaching the complexity of his solo music.

The electro players for their part – I am unable to differentiate between them individually – counter the acoustic sounds with otherworldly smears, stutters, sloshes, and scribbles; or explosively pointillistic sparks, crackles, gurgles, and prickly static.

It all adds up to exceptionally stimulating music for the listener, at the center of which is an edginess we’ve long associated with classically great free improvisation.

Henry Kuntz – June 2015

Henderson Pavilion to Host the 2015 Las Vegas Jazz Festival

11 06 2015

Henderson Pavilion to Host the 2015 Las Vegas Jazz Festival

The Las Vegas Jazz Festival returns on Friday, September 25, taking place at a new venue just outside of Sin City. The festival made its debut in the JW Marriott Resort & Spa over two years ago, and with tickets selling out for the last two events, Henderson Pavilion will be the new venue that will accommodate the growing number of attendees. It’s the largest outdoor amphitheater and the most sought-after live music venue in the state.

Many music fans are unaware of this fledgling festival, mostly because the jazz scene is still relatively young in this gambling-centric city, with the majority of visitors to Nevada making the trip to sample some many of the gaming establishments Sin City has to offer. Despite Las Vegas being far for most people, Intercasino explain on their blog that many are still willing to travel across the globe to experience the fun, thrills, and excitement you get from gambling. But when people travel to Vegas these days, they’re looking for more variety in entertainment beyond the casinos. Unlike before, music is now a huge part of the city’s tourism industry, drawing visitors from all over the world with the concerts and variety of music festivals hosted throughout the year. Las Vegas has since grown from the Wayne Newton lounge tunes and has welcomed a number of musical communities, more recently the jazz community.

Several jazz artists will be returning this year, including Will Downing and Anthony Hamilton, who is a regular at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. The Isley Brothers and Toni Braxton are among the new faces of the festival that will surely draw in a bigger crowd than previous years. Although the event this year isn’t located in the Valley, Henderson attracts lots of Vegas visitors because of its pavilion, the

Check out the complete lineup for the 2015 fall festival:

Friday, September 25
Erykah Badu
Marsha Ambrosius

Saturday, September 26:
Toni Braxton
Will Downing
Kelly Price
Elan Trotman & Tim Bowman
Phil Flowers
Shy Girls

Sunday, September 27:
Anthony Hamilton
The Isley Brothers
Mint Condition
Stephanie Mills
Marion Meadows & Paul Taylor
Eric Roberson

Visit the main website for more details on the festival.

ENVISION ENSEMBLE | Live at Berkeley Arts Festival | HBD O1

4 11 2014

ENVISION ENSEMBLE | Live at Berkeley Arts Festival | HBD O1

Free HUMMING BIRD Download Only Release

ENVISION ENSEMBLE Live at Berkeley Arts Festival
Free MP3 Download Available Here… (28:07)

ENVISION ENSEMBLE is: Henry Kuntz: Tenor saxophone, Balinese & Javanese gamelans, Thai & Mali wood xylophones, bamboo flute, Mexican Indian & toy violins, New Year noisemakers | Dan Plonsey: Clarinet, alto saxophone, 3-string violin, alto recorder, bells, shofar | Brian Godchaux: Electric violin | Esten Lindgren: Doublebass, pocket trumpet, guiro, triangle | John Kuntz: Electric mandolin, ukulele, toy percussion, Balinese gamelan

Performance of October 10, 2014 at Berkeley Arts Festival, Berkeley, CA. On-location digital recording and live stereo mix by Karen Stackpole.

Special thanks to Eleanor Lindgren who took original photos and videos of the ensemble; and to Joe Lasqo for inviting us to play and for his encouragement and support along the way.


For the second-ever performance by the ENVISION ENSEMBLE, the players expanded instrumentation and instrumental range, moving more fully into multi-dimensional “festival form”.

The ENSEMBLE’s formal expansion more or less flips the concept of a usual approach to improvisation, that in which players “listen” to and complementarily match what other players are doing while only occasionally moving into an entirely independent space.

The ENVISION ENSEMBLE begins in independent space. The players hear the whole as well as listen to the parts, creating beyond the strictures of standard complementarity. The intent is to fashion an experiential rather than compositionally logical totality.

The Concept:

The Envision Ensemble moves toward an advanced improvisational archetype, one in which multiple independent events may occur while the musicians simultaneously create an experiential musical whole.

Beyond expanding the independence of musical line – thus increasing the complexity of musical form – the Envision Ensemble expands the formal independence of each player – so that multiple musical forms might be happening at once, moving the music in the direction of what I call “festival form.”

So the players will be creating the total musical space rather than any specific improvised composition.

How will this work?

Each player will simultaneously create an organic complete music.

Each player may relate or not relate to the music and sounds going on around them, the same as when one is playing at home and sounds are occurring in the environment which may or may not affect one’s music.

While the players will not necessarily relate to each other in a compositional sense, they will relate to each other and to their shared environment experientially and together create (or “compose,” if you will) a sympathetically-in-tune experiential musical space – a space defined by the composite layers of sound that make it up, similar to the way the simultaneous layers of sound at a festival define and create the festival.

As Archetype:

The Fullness of Individual Being in
Collaborative and Existential Flow
With the Fullness of All Life.”

The performance will be completely improvised. At my suggestion, the Ensemble has not rehearsed prior to playing. The reason for this is that experience suggests that players’ edge of creativity often comes out more in the initial meeting (i.e. in the rehearsal) than in the performance.

So, along with the musicians, you will be experiencing this music for the very first time.

Henry Kuntz, for the Envision Ensemble

Photos Before & During October 10 Performance

Esten Lindgren

Brian Godchaux

Henry Kuntz

Dan Plonsey

Photos Copyright Eleanor Lindgren (All Rights Reserved)


John & Henry Kuntz | Photo by Jacque Braziel

Dan Plonsey, Esten Lindgren & Brian Godchaux | Photo by Jacque Braziel

Brian Godchaux & Esten Lindgren | Photo by Jacque Braziel

John Kuntz | Photo by Jacque Braziel

John Kuntz & Henry Kuntz | Photo by Jacque Braziel

Dan Plonsey | Photo by Jacque Braziel

Sometimes a recording can be clearer than being there — I think Karen’s wonderful, clean recording technique let the layers of gorgeous sound shift in kaleidoscopic clarity even more transparently than they did in the room itself.

It’s great this got documented, nobody else is able to enter this fantastic sonic space. — Joe Lasqo, Producer