A League Of His Own

English saxophonist Evan Parker is renowned for his revolutionary technique, a melding of circular breathing, multiphonics and reed manipulations, which he incorporates into contrasting voices on soprano and tenor.

Because of his groundbreaking solo soprano recordings, Parker's signature streams of intricately layered, independently shifting melodic, rhythmic and textural patterns are better known via "the straight horn." The Two Seasons, however, features Parker primarily on tenor. On this two-CD set recorded at the Vortex in London, Parker proves to be as equally original and proficient on the horn he considers to be the most difficult of the saxophones.

Leading a trio consisting of bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders, Parker's playing runs the gamut from gruff, sputtered fragments to gracefully arcing arpeggios in his lengthy solos. On the nearly half-hour "Winter II" (RealAudio excerpt), his energy and idea flow demonstrates why he is equally important as German tenor player Peter Brotzmann in bridging the innovations of saxophonists John Coltrane and Albert Ayler with the emergent European free music sensibility of the late '60s. Some of Parker's most startling work occurs in more fragmentary passages on "Winter V" (RealAudio excerpt), where Edwards delves into subtle arco effects and Sanders employs a soft attack and auxiliary percussion.

Fans of Parker's work on soprano only have "Summer III" (RealAudio excerpt) to relish. In this 17-minute piece, he cogently demonstrates why he is in a league of his own.