interview mit evan parker
traduction française (par S. Bertocchi)
simon waldvogel

In seinen charakteristischen Soloimprovisationen schafft der englische Saxophonist Evan Parker oftmals abstrakte, sehr komplexe Tonstrukturen und extrem dichte, gewebeartige Klangflächen. Dabei verschwinden unweigerlich die stilistischen Grenzen zwischern Jazz und zeitgenössischer "E"-Musik. Durch die Verwendung von zahlreichen instrumentalspezifischen zeitgenössischen Spieltechniken (wie Zirkularatmung, Spezialzunge, slap, growl, Mehrklänge, Mikrointervalle, Klangfarbenvariation, Höhenregister etc.) und durch seine ihm typische Klangsprache entsteht beim Zuhörer nicht mehr der Eindruck, einem Jazzmusiker oder einem zeitgenössischem "E"-Musiker zuzuhören, sondern man vernimmt einen "Saxophon-Musiker", einen Musiker, der abseits jeglicher Kategorien mit und durch dieses Instrument spricht und sich mitteilt.
Im Rahmen des von der "Gesellschaft für Neue Musik" in Zusammenarbeit mit u.a. dem "Ensemble Modern" veranstalteten "Nachwuchsforums" für junge Komponisten, Interpreten und Musikologen, das im März 2000 in Frankfurt am Main stattfand, gab Evan Parker ein Solokonzert und am Folgetag eine lecture über das Thema Improvisation.
Nach seinem Konzert hatte ich Gelegenheit, ihm einige Fragen zu stellen:

photo  ©  by simon waldvogel

S.W.: Was what you played tonight “Jazz“ or was it contemporary music ?

E.P.: It‘s really not my problem [laughing].

Would You call yourself a freejazz musician?

If we talk at length I can explain where I came from, who I listened to - 

I listened to a lot of great Jazz saxophone players - I didn‘t listened to 

Sigurd Rascher - I studied Sigurd Rascher‘s books - I don‘t listen to 

classical saxophone players with a view to taking material - I used the 

study materials from that tradition - I even used the Londeix material - 

both as a teacher and as a student. 

In general You are positioned in the Free Jazz area and you are mostly 

invited by Jazz festivals...

My only concern is practice and being ready to play something if I get

invited. I don‘t care who invites me. I‘m not looking for an invitation 

anywhere. I don‘t want to sound arrogant about that, it‘s just how it is. 

I work hard at the things that interest me. Looking for work doesn‘t 

interest me. Playing the saxophone interests me, so I work at that. If the

other things come, they come: if they don‘t come, they don‘t come. 

Over the last fifteen years academic students have also been working at the 

techniques you use, like multiphonics, circular breathing, playing with 

harmonics, high notes, special effects. Do You think there is a special, 

specific “language“ of the saxophone?

All of my language comes from an investigation of  the saxophone. Of 

course the saxophone is built on the one hand to play chromatic scales and 

it can do other things as well. And it‘s just a question of allowing the 

voice of the instrument to speak to you - your specific musical 

imagination. And I have a great feeling that the saxophone is more flexible 

in response to the imagination of the particular player than some other 

instruments. Each instrument is wonderfully interesting and full of 

possibilities but some instruments are more narrow in their scope. The 

saxophone is very wide, very open to take on the voice  of the individual 

player. That‘s a cliche from the jazz tradition, you know, the sound has 

some of the qualities of a voice - the individual sound of the player. But 

it‘s true - each player can find their own particular sound with the 

saxophone and I think that‘s the challenge. Maybe even more of a 

challenge inside the conservatory tradition of saxophone where there are 

still those possibilities.......

For myself the Top-tones book of Rascher has been like a bible - just in 

the sense that it indicates possibilities and gives very practical methods for 

approaching those possibilities and learning to control those possibilities. 

And from then on the challenge is to have  the saxophone speak with 

your voice. But before you can have the saxophone speak with your voice 

you have to know what the saxophone‘s voice is and that must include a 

study of the overtones and the way of overblowing the instrument and 

crossfingerings and all of that which is implicit in Rascher‘s approach 

especially in the „top-tones“.


Tonight you played a whole solo recital improvised. How do you prepare 

for such a concert? Do you have a prior conception, or do you work on 

anything in advance? Or do you just go on stage and play? 

Your head is full of memories  and your body is full of routines and I 

don‘t try to use the head to fight the body in that way but allow the 

routines to lead the head to some new place. Whether that always works 

or not - I don‘t know. But I have a feeling that where my music becomes 

most interesting is where I‘m not thinking any more and I‘m not in 

analytical control of what is happening. However controlled it feels and 

sounds and however rational the organisation of the material the best stuff 

comes when I‘m not thinking or at least not thinking analytically.

Do you think that it makes sense to teach improvisation at conservatories? 

Do you think that it is possible to teach improvisation?

I think it is possible to give people the confidence to improvise and give 

people the  feeling that it‘s not intellectually inferior or suspect which is 

the problem at the moment having elevated the class of “composer“ 

musicians above the rank and file. The ordinary musician is separated 

from his impulse to play by a notion of  “what should I be doing“  and 

“what can I get paid for doing“ very often, rather than “what do I feel like 

doing“. In order to put musicians more in touch with there own feelings 

you probably have to go right back to their earliest experiences with the 

instrument and that is a big programme. 

Do you still practice for yourself ? What do you practice then?

Well, I‘m trying to memorize these kinds of additive patterns - they are 

somewhere between Slonimsky [Nicolas] and Steve Lacy. So just take  a 

thing like a flattened fifth and separate it by semi-tones [E. Parker playing] 

They don‘t fall under the fingers naturally. They‘re not arpeggios, they‘re 

not scales but they are patterns. I use them like armatures in a sculpture

- I think we call it an armature - sometimes under the clay there are some 

steel pieces that makes it possible to support the clay in a position that the 

clay wouldn‘t hold by itself. Very often I‘m working with harmonically 

neutral material - harmonically neutral intervals. It takes a little while to 

memorize all the messy scales and it takes a little while to think which of 

these patterns I would like to work with next. 

© by simon waldvogel. 2000


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