FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004

FMP CD 114/15

Evan Parker


Dear listener, at first glance the illustration (see cover) might suggest it had been chosen for humorous effect only. The idea of swinging heavy weights from the genitals may seem an odd metaphor for the music. It has equivalents in all languages; think of the Italian ´rompe coglioni´ with accompanying hand gesture. It connotes boredom, irritation, inconvenience, etc. to the point of pain and beyond – scarcely a recommendation. Since we chose the illustration we should try to explain.

It can certainly be understood as alluding to the tougher side of improvising in public: turn up on a wet night in the middle of winter after driving all day and make something happen – (“Shut up and play your bass” as the kind gentleman in Montréal said to Barry Guy – and you may already be thinking something along the same lines!). There are nights when with the best will in the world the music is somewhat lacklustre. We don´t encourage the making of records from those tapes.

These recordings were made from tapes made by Jasper Noë as a standard Bim Huis service to the musicians. Because the Bim Huis was founded by and continues to be under the direction of musicians, the whole atmosphere of the place is positively supportive. At the same time because a lot of groups come through town and the local community of players is so strong, there is no particular sense of occasion (“Do not despair, one of the thieves was spared. Do not presume, one of the thieves was hung” Samuel Beckett). The sense of occasion has to be worked for. I hope the music convinces you that this was a good night for the trio – it´s our only reason for issuing it – and that we did swing the Bim.

It would be wearisome to harp on about how long this group has been together. You can find the dates somewhere else. The fact is we´ve been playing together a long time and there is much in the broad structure of pieces which happens over and over again. This doesn´t come about through a lack of ideas but simply through the finite combinatorial possibilities of the number THREE. X, y, z can give you xy, xz and yz. And then (xy)z, (xz)y, (yz)x or then again (x) (y), (x) (z), (y) (z) or yes even (x), (y) and (z). Interpret the symbols, signs and brackets any way you like, they´re all true and they´ve all happened in almost every concert we ever played, but that explains almost nothing of interest. The interest is in how the life stays in it – especially for us, because if it´s not there for us it can´t be there for you. The explanation is in the difference between the routine and the complacent.

It has been asserted, almost pontificated, in some quarters that regular groups are somehow contrary or antithetical to the spirit of improvisation. Our counter assertion is that the unknown can only ever be approached from the known and this is true regardless from where and when you start. René Daumal said in another context, “The path to our highest
desires often lies through the undesirable” and again “A knife is neither true nor false, but he who grasps it by the blade is truly in error”. Or to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller, the more you know, the more you know you don´t know…

To return to the heavily weighted shame-piece; think of it like this: “Thank God, gravity has its opposite.” Through swinging the bim, or whatever the weight is called, we develop the strength to counter gravity.

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