The 4000 Nights of New York in 1988
Peter Urpeth : performance poet
Evan Parker : saxophone
Doors 7.30 | performance 8pm | £10 cash
Set in London and New York in the late 1980s, this collection combines memoir, eulogy, beat and epic poetry forms in a fractured and confessional journey – an improvisation on love and loss, on memory and its broken and unreliable traces, with the spaces and culture of the two iconic cities as its backdrop.
Starting from the poet’s running of the Makeshift Club at the Duke of Wellington, Dalston, in the 80s and the poet’s friendship with the writer, Kathy Acker, via NY free jazz, Civil Rights campaigns and punk, the sequence concludes in the remote southern Cairngorms of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides with an exploration of shamanic poetic forms focused on recovery, of overcoming trauma and loss through writing, and through an ecstatic and immersive experience with nature and these wild landscapes.
In this performance, Evan and Peter perform the collection together but in short solo sequences, reading and response, but also with solo saxophone and poetry sets.
Evan Parker : saxophone
Saxophonist Evan Parker is renowned as one of the most innovative musicians working in Europe in the last fifty years and one of the true pioneers of free improvisation. In 1973, in a forum to discuss the “future of music”, Evan states that he predicted that improvisation would become the most important mode of music making, and concludes – “In the intervening fifty years, I have watched my prediction come true.”
He made his first recording, Karyōbin, for Hexagram, a division of Island Records, in 1968 as pat of The Spontaneous Music Ensemble, aka SME, with John Stevens, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland and Derek Bailey:. At that point , Evan states, SME was functioning as a duo under John Steven’s leadership with Evan as the ‘indentured apprentice’. Together Evan says, John and I decided that such a special occasion called for a larger group. Fortunately a duo with John Stevens was also recorded., and says that that period of playing, in duo with John Stevens, was his ‘baptism of fire’ and consolidated his commitment to ‘open improvisation’ (often called ‘free’).
Evan went on to play in duo with Paul Lytton, with Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies and Jamie Muir in the Music Improvisation Company, and recorded for the then newly founded ECM records. He was active in the London based Musicians Co-operative, and then founded and ran Incus Records with Derek Bailey, adding: “I left him to it after we had issued 50 records”.
Barry Guy included Evan in his London Jazz Composers Orchestra from its earliest performances, and took part in his first composition for the LJCO, ‘Ode’ and oversaw it’s release on Incus Records.
Evan has played in various Peter Brötzmann groups, including the legendary ‘Machine Gun’ sessions, worked with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink in various Instant Composers Pool projects, and at some point in the mid 1970’s joined the Schlippenbach Trio and the Globe Unity Orchestra.
In 1980 the duo with Paul Lytton became Parker/Guy/Lytton when Barry Guy joined.
In the 90s, Evan formed the ElectroAcoustic Ensemble, working with producer Steve Lake, and recorded four CDs for ECM. Barry Guy played on all these recordings. The group also recorded three duo records, two studio recordings for FMP and Intakt, and a live recording made for jazz+now during a tour of Japan in the 80s.
Since then he has freelanced in in many different groupings.
Evan performed and recorded with some ofhis heroes: Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley, Anthony Braxton, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland, George Lewis, Milford Graves, Steve Lacy.
In the new century he began work with Matt Wright in the group we call Trance Map+ recording for Intakt – an on-going project that includes guests Peter Evans, Mark Nauseef, Ikue Mori, and Ned Rothenberg.
At regular intervals Evan has worked on solo concerts, and prefers, wherever possible, to play without amplification in spaces with interesting acoustic properties. Starting with ‘Saxophone Solos’ for Incus, he has made seven more solo recordings – a mix of studio and concert recordings.
Peter Urpeth : performance poet
Peter Urpeth is a writer and musician. As a pianist, he works in free improvisation and silent movie music, and amongst his recordings are sets with his duets, quartets and quintets with Terry Day, Olie Brice, Neil Charles and Ntshuks Bonga, and with Maggie Nicols. He works regularly with guitarist Mark Hewins.
Amongst Peter Urpeth’s earliest gigs was a trio with Evan Parker and Sue Ferrar in Brixton the early 1980s, and at that time he worked also with Eddie Prevost, and with long-standing band MakeShift, LMC regulars, who released an album on BandCamp during the first pandemic lock-down.
As a writer, Peter Urpeth’s first novel, Far Inland was published by Birlinn Polygon, and his poetry has appeared in numerous poetry magazine, anthologies and journals.
In October 2022, he published his performance poetry collection, The 4000 Nights of New York in 1988, a fractured memoir of London and New York, and launched the work with a duet performance with Evan Parker, and with his band featuring Mark Hewins, Ntshuks Bonga and Trevor Taylor.
His documentary film ‘Manna – Jazz and Survival in East Harlem’ premiered at the Africa World Film Festival, Charles H Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, USA in 2018.
Peter Urpeth lives and works from the Outer Hebrides.