In the late 1970’s while I was working on the early version of my solo guitar music contending with issues of open tonaIity, density, melody, and drawing on Cecil Taylor’s music, delta blues, and an abstracted view of chord solo jazz guitar for inspiration, I also spent a lot of time listening to Evan Parker’s solo music. I had admired his group playing too, his community of collaborators, the whole thing, his whole approach. It was clear by listening that when Evan played solo it was different than what he and the others played in groups.
Back then music that was known as minimalism made by composers such as Steve Reich, Phillip Glass was getting a lot of attention. That music employed melodic patterns and repetition with gradual variation. Great stuff, but as an improviser it never moved me the way other music did. It was too static, too formal. I preferred more dynamic repetition and variation and I could already find that in nearly every version of African-American music. Evan Parker was the improvising musician who created a way to blend the static and the dynamic.
Fast forward to the concert recorded for this CD. It took many years but I finally had the chance to play duo with Evan Parker and I did what I had planned to do. At the end of the concert an African man walked up to me and said that he thought my guitar playing sounded like a kora. I told him the story. He responded “I play kora!” I asked him his name and he said “Foday Muso Susa!”. I said “You’re one of the kora players I listened too!”
He is one of the greatest in the world. And not surprisingly, Phillip Glass has composed for him.