The fifth album by Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble adds new members – Peter Evans, Ned Rothenberg, Ko Ishikawa – to the group, and explores dimensions of complexity and fresh sound-colour combinations inside the broad structure provided by its band-leader. As Richard Barrett has noted, the E-AE is effectively a new kind of chamber orchestra. In shaping and directing music for it, Parker puts his improvisational skills in the service of new composition – and, indeed, the music created for the present disc contributed to his receiving a Hamlyn Foundation Award for composition in 2008.
“The Moment’s Energy” features an extended work commissioned from Evan Parker by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and was recorded at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in November 2007. Although it incorporates ‘live’ material, it is not primarily a live album, but then the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, with its ‘processing’ of improvised music, has been challenging notions of what ‘live’ means from the beginning of its history. Since “Memory/Vision” in 2002, furthermore, Parker’s albums with the E-AE have utilized, in varying ratio, both concert recordings and location recordings made under controlled ‘studio’ conditions. The electronic interventions in the music being both unpredictable and unrepeatable, ‘alternate takes’ in this context offer a wealth of radically different choices. On the present recording, only “Incandescent Clouds” , and Part IV of “The Moment’s Energy” are from the Huddersfield concert, the majority of the music being drawn from sessions in the days leading up to it.
The Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, a sextet on “Toward The Margins” (1996), has been growing steadily in size since the group’s inception. The current 14-piece group is also the most international version of the band, with members from the UK (including the Uganda-born Wachsmann), the US, Japan, Spain and Italy. Its distinguished line-up includes improvisers, composers, and sonic scientists – all of them well-known to followers of creative music.
Evan Parker is widely recognized as one of the most important saxophonists of the post Coltrane period. Almost the first European reed player to record for ECM he appeared on the label’s fifth release, “Music Improvisation Company”, in 1970, a recording that already included electronics (played then by Hugh Davies) in an improvisational context. Parker has also appeared on ECM discs with Kenny Wheeler and Gavin Bryars, and in trio with Paul Bley and Barre Phillips.
Violinist Philipp Wachsmann and drummer Paul Lytton have recorded for ECM in duo together on “Some Other Season” (1997), while bassist Barry Guy has been featured on the label as both instrumentalist and composer. He can be heard with the Hilliard Ensemble on “A Hilliard Songbook” and on his own albums - “Ceremony” (2001) with baroque violinist Maya Homburger and “Folio” (2005) with the Munich Chamber Orchestra under Christoph Poppen.
Americans Peter Evans and Ned Rothenberg, both making ECM debuts here, are prominent figures on the improvised music scene. Evans is rapidly gaining recognition as a major new voice on trumpet, both in his own groups and with the band Mostly Other People Do The Killing. He has also recorded solo trumpet albums for Parker’s Psi label.
Ned Rothenberg has been a frequent duo partner of Parker’s. They have toured widely together. Rothenberg’s clarinets and shakuhachi add fresh textures, as does the shō of Ko Ishikawa. The Japanese improviser Ishikawa plays this oldest of traditional instruments of the Gagaku (imperial court), finding sonorities both ancient and modern.
Pianist Agustí Fernández, from Barcelona, studied with Iannis Xenakis and Herbert Henck, amongst others, and recently appeared at ECM’s Barcelona Auditori series with Marilyn Crispell and Barry Guy.
Richard Barrett, one of Britain’s most outstanding contemporary composers (his many prizes include the British Composer Award for chamber music), has also had a 20 year electronic improvisation duo, FURT, with Paul Obermayer. The duo has been integrated inside Parker’s ensemble since 2004 – a group inside the group.
Lawrence Casserley was a pioneer of electro-acoustic music in the UK. Active with his own Colourscape project, he also designed the rig that permits multi-directional electronic interaction inside the Ensemble. Walter Prati and Marco Vecchi collaborate regularly on projects of many kinds in Milan. Prati’s own music has been played at La Scala, and he has worked with Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, with singer Robert Wyatt and others.
American composer-improviser Joel Ryan is an innovator in real-time electronic music whose work spans collaboration with Frances-Marie Uitti, George Lewis and the Frankfurt Ballet, as well as research at the STEIM institute.