Friday, September 30, 2005

Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble – The Eleventh Hour (ECM, 2005)

Saxophonist Evan Parker has released reams of records documenting projects from solo concerts to large band ensembles. His Electro-Acoustic Ensemble provides a forum in which acoustic music made by musicians under his leadership is then electronically processed and fed back in real time. It makes for some very unusual music that is far away from the landscape of jazz that most people may be familiar with but provides an example of what Jackie McLean calls “The Big Room” free jazz having room for all types of music.

It is very difficult to describe the music with any degree of accuracy, but the musicians build intriguing soundscapes with multiple layers. Swirling saxophone and violin mixes with ambient electronics to create a spooky and genuinely haunting experience. There is a stand alone composition entitled “Shadow Play” which is accurately titled as the music ebbs and flows in a spectral fashion. The rest of the album is the title track broken into an epic five part suite. There really aren’t very many solos per se to single out, although Parker and some of the other instrumentalists are heard clearly. If you are open-mnided and looking for an unusual listening experience, this may be it.

Send comments to: Tim