Toward The Margins

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

CD18,90 out of print

British saxophonist Evan Parker was one of the first musicians to record for ECM, appearing on the label’s fifth album in 1970 as a member of the Music Improvisation Company; his partners in that collective included Stockhausen associate and electronic composer Hugh Davies. Over the past three decades, electronics have been one of Parker’s abiding interests and his collaborations both with improvisers using electronics and with composers of electronic music have been many. In 1992 he formed the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble to explore more fully the potential of live electronics in improvisation, a potential that has grown as the technology has become more sophisticated. The Ensemble pools musicians from the worlds of free improvisation, jazz, contemporary composition and computer music research, with most of its members straddling more than one idiom or area of activity. The Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble has toured widely, and its North American debut at the Victoriaville Festival was widely hailed as the event’s highlight: "An orchestral music of panoramic scope, full of spatial detail…cascading layers of morphing transmutations … the electronic manipulations charged the music with a sense of spontaneous discovery" – Cadence, "Ardent … grandly ambitious … broadly sweeping schemes, mating improvised activity with MIDI-fied crosstalk" – Jazz Times

Featured Artists Recorded

May 1996, Gateway Studio, Kingston

Original Release Date


  • 1Toward the Margins
    (Barry Guy, Evan Parker, Philipp Wachsmann)
  • 2Turbulent Mirror
    (Evan Parker)
  • 3Field and Figure
    (Barry Guy, Evan Parker)
  • 4The Regenerative Landscape (for AMM)
    (Evan Parker)
  • 5Chain of Chance
    (Marco Vecchi, Paul Lytton, Walter Prati)
  • 6Trahütten
    (Evan Parker, Philipp Wachsmann)
  • 7Shadow without an Object: (1) Engagement / (2) Reversal / (3) Displacement
    (Barry Guy, Evan Parker, Marco Vecchi, Paul Lytton, Philipp Wachsmann, Walter Prati)
  • 8Epanados
    (Barry Guy, Evan Parker, Marco Vecchi, Paul Lytton, Philipp Wachsmann, Walter Prati)
  • 9Born Cross-Eyed (Remebering Fuller)
    (Paul Lytton)
  • 10Philipp's Pavilion
    (Evan Parker, Philipp Wachsmann)
  • 11The Hundred Books (for Idries Shah)
    (Evan Parker)
  • 12Contra-Dance
    (Barry Guy, Evan Parker)
If Ligeti ever wrote a Sextet for Soprano Saxophone, Strings, Percussion and Electronics, I wager it would sound something like the music here. This is as near perfect as it gets. ... This disc is a revelation. The pure group playing is quite extraordinary and the electronics and sound processing of Walter Prati and Marco Vecchi are integral and wholly essential.
Nick Smith, Avant
There is a great deal of slowly-evolving tone colour and space, with the opening track almost entirely textural and hung around Guy's sonorous bass. Sepulchral gong-sounds echo behind Parker's whirling soprano sax, there are spooky percussion solos of slithery whispers and sounds like buckets of broken glass being emptied onto concrete, and the leader's remarkable capacity for contrapuntal solo playing acquires even more voices as the electronics echo it. Serious play, in every respect.
John Fordham, The Guardian (Jazz CD of the Week)
Throughout the album electronics are used very subtly. Parker has questioned the distinction between composition and improvisation in the past. By bringing the often dourly academic world of computer music into contact with the empathies and on-the-hoof musicality of jazz-related improvisation, he and his collaborators have created a potent and open form of music. Take the Barry Guy-dominated 'Contra-Dance' ­ a formidable set of resonant bass tones is swathed in electronic textures, startling in sound terms, but carrying the dredged-up memory of a ballad performance. Instead of the predominance of lightning-quick interplay, the focus on this landmark recording has shifted to evolution and how the richness of acoustic sound can be represented in new ways during performance.
Will Montgomery, The Wire