Saxophonist Evan Parker is a bona fide giant of free improvisation, and for more than two decades his collaborations with peers like Derek Bailey, Paul Lovens, Alex von Schlippenbach, and the late John Stevens, and even his work in the big band of the Stones’ Charlie Watts, have made plain his stunning interactive skills. But nothing is more breathtaking than Parker’s solo work. His extraordinary, meticulous musical logic has long placed a premium on sound; like Sonny Rollins, he examines a phrase from every possible angle before moving on. But whereas Rollins deals with melodic statements, Parker favors the abstract. He often plays two lines at the same time, one droning while the other shifts in small increments. And he’s one of the greatest practitioners of circular breathing (in which the player creates an uninterrupted stream of sound by filling the lungs via the nose while expelling air from the mouth); to witness Parker employing it throughout one of his set-length pieces is a religious experience. His most recent solo outing, Chicago Solo (Okka Disk), which is also his first on tenor (as opposed to soprano), was recorded here a couple of years ago, but Parker’s Friday-night appearance at the three-day Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music is his first-ever live solo gig in Chicago. He’ll also do a duet with pianist Georg GrŠwe on Saturday afternoon at Unity Temple, and on Saturday night he’ll perform in a series of duos and trios with Joe McPhee and Dutch reedists Ab Baars and Peter Van Bergen. Friday, 10 PM, and Saturday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Saturday, 2 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park; 708-383-8873. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Pascal Bichain.