Category Archives: Recording

The ExoPlanets Suite

ExoPlanet Suite front cover

When Will Gregory asked me to be involved with the Moog Ensemble I started writing some music for the group which formed the beginnings of this collection of pieces. It became apparent after a while that for practical reasons it wasn’t quite the right music for the group (I have written other music for the ensemble since), but I decided to pursue the idea of my own suite for synthesizers anyway. The notion of a collection of sci-fi scenes – planets with different characters and colours, gradually evolved.

 

The pieces show off the different kinds of music that have been made on synths. Some of it has a distinctly “radiophonic” feel – neoclassical fanfares, fugal writing etc – that reminds one of sci fi of the 1960s and 70s. Some of it is atmospheric or ambient – conjuring alien landscapes or architecture. There are occasional nods towards the electronic music of the avant garde, and to the dance music of the 1990s.

 

One of the intriguing things for me about the instrument is that despite its promise of being a new sound, it is in fact quite dated. Some of the sounds are so iconic and evocative that it becomes impossible to shake these associations off. So I decided to use these associations rather than avoid them. The synthesizer has many different traditions, many different colours: as noted above, there is the neo-classical (or more properly neo-baroque) style in many TV soundtracks of the 60s and 70s – for example, Doctor Who of the Jon Pertwee era. Many of the sounds in the original series of Star Trek (the Enterprise going into warp, photon torpedos, various planetary environments) are made on synths. Prog rock made much use of the synth and there are allusions to the style of bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Gentle Giant here too. The synthesizer was a big part of the jazz rock fusion era, and the soundscapes featuring in the music of Weather Report, Herbie Hancock’s HeadHunters, Chick Corea, and others, were created using synth sounds. Stevie Wonder worked with the TONTO team to create his own synth sound world. Later on, with samples and drum loops, another characterisation of the synth came into dance music.

 

The music of this album can be broadly characterised in three ways: there are “narrative” pieces like the fanfares and “Strange Games”; there are “ambiences”, either of environments or architecture; and there are dance-style “groove” pieces. The compositional approaches vary from the traditional dots-on-paper (“Hindemith Planetia”, “Nu World Synfonie”) method to more improvisatory jazz and dance-music methods (“Angular Momentum”, “Cloud Catcher”). The synth’s ability to create imaginary worlds is explored in an intuitive music concrete way, sometimes using actual sounds from the real world (“Rain Planet”, “Ice World Terraforming”).

 

Listen out for certain motifs carrying over from piece to piece. This gives a sense of continuity over the 18 pieces that form the suite.

 

There is a huge dynamic range over the course of the album. Some of the ambient music is very quiet. The synthesizer is an instrument which has the ability to create sounds that hover almost subliminally, and this is unlike any other instrument. I’m hoping that this dynamic range will draw the listener into the sound world of the ExoPlanets Suite.

 

I’m still exploring the world of the synth: there’s plenty more to come!

 

Eddie Parker 2016

 

 

Django Bates: Summer Fruits: and Unrest

Django Bates: Summer Fruits

Buy it now

1. Tightrope
2. Armchair March
3. Food For Plankton (In Detail)
4. Sad Afrika
5. Three Architects Called Gabrielle: Just What I Expected
6. Queen Of Puddings
7. Hyphen
8. Nights At The Circus
9. Discovering Metal
10. Little Petherick
11. March Hare Dance

Tightrope – Armchair March – Food for Plankton – Säd Afrika – Three Architects Called Gabrielle : Just What I Expected – Queen of Puddings – Hyphen – Nights at the Circus – Discovering Metal – Little Petherick – March Hare Dance / Eddie Parker, flûte – Sarah Homer, clarinette – Lain Ballamy & Steve Buckley, saxo sop. & alto – Mark Lockheart & Barak schmool, saxo ténor

Buy it now

 

Django Bates: Winter Truce (and Homes Blaze)

Django Bates: Winter Truce

Django Bates: Winter Truce

Buy it now

1. You Can’t Have Everything
2. The Loneliness Of Being Right
3. …And A Golden Pear
4. New York, New York
5. Early Bloomer
6. X = Thingys x 3 Divide MF
7. Fox Across The Road
8. Powder Room Collapse
9. Kookaburra Laughed
10. You Can’t Have Everything Reprise

You can’t have Everything – The Loneliness Of Being Right – And a Golden Pear – New York New York – Early Bloomer – X = Thingys x 3 MF – Fox acrros the road – Powder Room Collapse – Kookaburra Laughed – You can’t have Everything Reprise / Julian Arguelles, sax baryton & sop – Lain Ballamy, sax sop, alto & ténor – Chris Batchelor, trompette – Django Bates, trombone – Steve Buckley, sax sop & alto…

Buy it now

Loose Tubes: Säd Afrika

Loose Tubes: Sad Afrika

Loose Tubes: Sad Afrika

Loose Tubes album Säd Afrika – Click here to buy

1. Säd Afrika
2. Exeter, King of Cities
3. Sunny
4. Mo Mhúirnín Bán
5. Delightful Precipice
6. Sosbun Brakk
7. Sweet Williams

‘Säd Afrika’ is the sequel to Loose Tubes’ acclaimed ‘Dancing on Frith Street’, Jazzwise’s reissue / archive album of the year 2010, and delivers more tonal delights from the bands’ valedictory residency in September 1990 at Soho’s feted jazz institution, Ronnie Scott’s. The album features seven tracks, including Eddie Parker’s previously unrecorded ‘Exeter, King of Cities’ and is appearing here for the first time in any format.One of the most intriguing ensembles to arrive on the British jazz scene in the 80s, Loose Tubes created music whose cultural centre freewheeled with the imagination of its cohorts. The unremitting carnival ambiance that pervades this recording could thus have as much European gypsy as Afro-Brazilian samba resonances.They were a formidable live group whose affiliates included a London-based Canadian (bass trombonist and M.C Ashley Slater), a son of Lesotho (percussionist Thebi Lipere), a Welsh Buddhist (clarinettist Dai Pritchard), plus a gaggle of Englishmen with ideas as colourful as their mix and un-match outfits, who all went on to become the Who’s Who of the British Jazz scene, including Django Bates, Iain Ballamy and John Parricell.Personnel: Eddie Parker (flutes), Dai Pritchard (clarinets), Steve Buckley, Iain Ballamy, Mark Lockheart, Julian Nicholas, Ken Stubbs (saxophones), Lance Kelly, Chris Batchelor, Ted Emmett, Paul Edmonds, Noel Langley (trumpets), John Harborne, Steve Day, Paul Taylor, Richard Pywell, Ashley Slater (trombones), Dave Powell (tuba), Django Bates (keyboards), John Parricelli (guitar), Steve Watts (bass), Martin France (drums), Thebi Lipere (percussion)

BBC Review

In September 2010, there was justifiable celebration at the release of Dancing on Frith Street by Loose Tubes. Recorded live at their three-day farewell appearance at Ronnie Scott’s in September 1990, it captured the power and uninhibited joy of the band’s music, with its preponderance of reeds and brass. Now, Säd Afrika is a worthy sequel and companion-piece to it; recorded over the same period, it shares all of its qualities.The album title translates as “South Africa”, and there is nothing remotely sad about the album, quite the opposite. It is dedicated to Nelson Mandela (in 1990, recently freed) and gives thanks to the many South African musical exiles who lived in London from the 60s onwards, enlivening its music scene and inspiring British musicians. The 23-piece Loose Tubes certainly owed a great debt to Brotherhood of Breath, the free-blowing London-based big band with a nucleus of South African exiles.As ever, all of the compositions here were by band members. Five of the seven tracks are from the band’s studio albums, now sadly unavailable; often, these versions manage to trump the originals, the live context adding extra solos and excitement. The dry wit of the introductions by bass trombonist Ashley Slater also enhances the album.Two compositions by keyboardist Django Bates, the title track and Delightful Precipice, particularly stand out. Each combines the band’s customary instrumental exuberance with vocal interludes in which all members harmonise as a chorus, to stunning effect.Another two pieces make their recorded debut here: Exeter, King of Cities by flautist Eddie Parker and Mo Mhuirnin Ban by trumpeter Chris Batchelor. Despite the album’s South African flavour, these pieces demonstrate that the band – as players and composers – also drew inspiration from a rich variety of global influences, including Latin American rhythms, Irish jigs, big-band and other jazz, brass bands and far more, all distilled into a compellingly danceable amalgam.Click here to buy

Loose Tubes: Dancing on Frith Street

Loose Tubes: Dancing on Frith Street

Loose Tubes: Dancing on Frith Street

The Loose Tubes album Dancing on Frith Street

Click here to buy

1. Yellow Hill
2. Discovering Metal
3. Last Word
4. Shelley
5. Godbucket
6. Like Life
7. Village

Previously unreleased live session recorded at Ronnie Scott’s in 1990 by Loose Tubes, the innovative big band that brought together many of the leading young jazz musicians of the day.With over 20 members, Loose Tubes was one of the biggest of big bands and it drew on a considerable pool of writing as well as playing talent: particularly from Django Bates, Eddie Parker, Steve Berry and Chris Batchelor. Its music was an exotic blend of jazz, rock and sundry world musics plus a substantial dash of British humour.Founded in 1984 the group was a great concert draw and it released 3 albums, including one produced by Teo Macero, the producer of many of Miles Davis’s classic albums. None of these albums have been available for many years so this CD of previously unreleased material will be welcomed by Loose Tubes’ many thousands of fans.Personnel: Eddie Parker (flutes), Dai Pritchard (clarinets), Steve Buckley, Iain Ballamy, Mark Lockheart, Julian Nicholas, Ken Stubbs (saxophones), Lance Kelly, Chris Batchelor, Ted Emmett, Paul Edmonds, Noel Langley (trumpets), John Harborne, Steve Day, Paul Taylor, Richard Pywell, Ashley Slater (trombones), Dave Powell (tuba), Django Bates (keyboards), John Parricelli (guitar), Steve Watts (bass), Martin France (drums), Thebi Lipere (percussion)

BBC Review

For several generations of jazz listeners, the release of Dancing on Frith Street will be cause for celebration. Recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s in September 1990, in the days before Loose Tubes broke up, the album has never before seen the light of day. Bursting with energy, invention and fun, the music is highly danceable. It balances tight arrangements and fiery solos with the band’s quirky sense of humour.In the years since they split up, Loose Tubes have acquired mythical status for those who remember them or have only heard of their exploits by word of mouth. Between 1985 and 1988, they released three studio-recorded albums on vinyl, long since unavailable. The limited availability of those recordings only enhanced the band’s reputation. Dancing on Frith Street will surely enhance it further still.Catching the 23-piece band on top form, it clearly demonstrates why they were such a popular live attraction. With 18 wind instruments plus a five-piece rhythm section, their emphasis was always on exuberant blowing. As on their 80s releases, there are no cover versions here; the compositions and arrangements all originated within the band. Taking their inspiration and rhythms from far and wide – including ska, South African township jazz, New Orleans second-lining and beyond – they created their own distinctive blend.The root of the band’s success lay in the number of fine players, writers and arrangers included in its ranks, many of whom have gone on to greater things since 1990. Saxophonist Iain Ballamy, trumpeter Chris Batchelor, keyboardist Django Bates, flautist Eddie Parker and guitarist John Parricelli represent just the tip of the iceberg.Despite its vintage, Dancing on Frith Street still sounds remarkably fresh and contemporary. That is fitting as the music and attitude of Loose Tubes have been very influential on many current bands, notably those from the F-IRE and Loop collectives.

Click here to buy

Bheki Mseleku: Celebration

Bheki Mseleku: Celebration

Bheki Mseleku: Celebration

Bheki Mseleku: Celebration

Buy it now

Eddie Parker Group: Everything You Do To Me

The Eddie Parker Group: Everything You Do To Me

Eddie Parker Group: Transformations of the Lamp: FMRCD09-111994

Eddie Parker Group: Everything You Do To Me

Eddie Parker has gained a reputation as Britain’s formost flautist. A player of exceptional talent as well as a great composer, this is the bands second eagerly awaited CD. Featuring yet another great British group of outstanding players. Always interesting, the compositions are fresh and vital yet controlled by an experience and maturity.

Buy this now from FMR Records.