Tag Archives: eddie parker

Snowsteps for Moog Ensemble

Snowsteps

For Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, 10 players

 

This is the second piece I have written which is based on, and is a transformation of, a Prelude by Claude Debussy. The piece, “Des pas sur la neige”, translated as “Footsteps in the snow”, is the sixth in Book 1 of the Preludes for piano, written around 1909-10. Although there is no specific literary or artistic allusion contained in the title, the romantic image of the lonely journey through a winter landscape, punctuated by moments of hope and of despair, is a common one in European art. Schubert’s Winterreise, settings of words by Wilhelm Muller, is perhaps the most famous.

 

Following the example of painter Joan Miro’s transformation of Dutch master Hendrik Martenzoon Sorgh’s “The Lute Player”click here for link, I have kept the shape of the original piece intact, but adding mirroring phrases and transforming the harmony.

 

In my first Debussy transformation “Windgames”, the original instrumentation remains. When the opportunity to write something new for the Moog Ensemble came up, it allowed me to explore some of the timbral landscape of Debussy’s piece. My first piece for the Ensemble, “Oceans of Heaven”, was based on the instrument’s ability to make a note appear from, and disappear back into silence. In “Snowsteps”, I’m exploiting, among other things, the instrument’s ability to change the timbre of a note over its duration – great for conjuring images of changing shades of sunlight reflecting and refracting on snow.  The high tones, with filters open, create a glassy quality, as of ice. The use of delay pedals, with muted swirls of notes, of drifting billows of snowflakes.

 

In a few places the progress of the piece is interrupted. One hears distant unearthly harmonies like howling wolves, or a mourning choir of angels. This is achieved on an instrument called a Swarmatron.

 

One can imagine several iterations of this piece, each getting further and further away from the Debussy – as if successive snowfalls were gradually burying and adumbrating the original contours.

 

Would Debussy have composed for the synthesizer if he were here now? A bit of a cliché question, and rather problematic considering all that has happened to musical language since his time: Stockhausen took the exploration of electronically generated sound to an extreme point half a century ago – notwithstanding that it was Debussy that opened the compositional door to timbre and colour a half century before that. Debussy conceived of his music as “the art of sound and colour”; he was interested in the sonorous possibilities that modern musical instruments offered. It would be difficult to imagine a piece like “La Cathedrale Engloutie” on a harpsichord, for example. So, yes, if the synth had been around in Debussy’s day I’m sure he would have been intrigued by its capabilities. He was never interested in the organ though – but then the timbre of an organ note cannot be changed while holding a note down…

Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo 606 Club 26th June 2014

Cheltenham Jazz Festival photo: Steve Green

Cheltenham Jazz Festival photo: Steve Green

 

Fresh from Loose Tube’s historic reunion performances at Cheltenham Festival and Ronnie Scott’s Club, during which his new BBC Radio 3 commission “Bright Smoke, Cold Fire” was aired, Eddie here presents what has been the main vehicle for his work in recent years, the sextet Mister Vertigo. With trusted colleagues including Loose Tubes alumni John Parricelli on guitar, Julian Nicholas on sax, and the amazing Kit Downes on keyboards, Eddie explores a smorgasbord of influences including classical music, Brazilian music, rock music, and folk. Intelligent and eclectic, Eddie’s engaging, individual voice appeals to jazz and non-jazz audiences alike.

Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo Vortex April 12th 2014

Eddie Parker's Mister Vertigo

Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo

Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo, April 12th 2014 at the Vortex, Dalston, London. Featuring Kit Downes, piano; John Parricelli, guitar; Julian Nicholas, sax; Mike Pickering, drums; Steve Watts, bass.

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