Eddie Parker performs with his band Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo at the 606 Club on 26th June. Josef Stout continued our email interview. Read Part 1 HERE :
LondonJazz News: Your compositions for Loose Tubes are all remarkably different; from the Dolphy-esque freeness of ‘Sosbun Brakk’ to the subtle funk of ‘Children’s Game’, plus nods towards Ska and Brazilian to name a few. Did you always aim to be as contrasting to your last piece as possible?
Eddie Parker: It’s not that I try to make each composition different from the last one: I’m not like Karlheinz Stockhausen in that respect! It’s just what comes out, given that I have eclectic interests. We live in a time when it is possible to be exposed to very widely different musics, I mean other than those we are brought up in: I’ve spoken elsewhere about the records our family possessed when I was a kid – Stevie Wonder, Alban Berg, Bartok etc; that was already rather wide-ranging! But once I was a teenager and pursuing my own interests, I truffled out all kinds of stuff. And some of it went in, and some of it didn’t. My composing career has been a working out, in some respects, of all those jostling influences; I’m trying to be true to myself in doing this rather than saying to myself “right, it’s just salsa music from now on” (much as I like salsa!). It would be like saying “right, no more C sharps from now on!”.
LJ: Were there any stumbling blocks regarding arranging for so many musicians; ie, making sure each player has something interesting to play without ‘over doing’ ones voicings etc ?
EP: There always are challenges in arranging for so many musicians but I had a good training in it 25 years ago when Loose Tubes rehearsed every week. I got to understand what 5 saxes, 4 trombones and tuba and 4 trumpets can do. Sometimes the biggest challenge is working out exactly what the rhythm section need to have in their parts for them to know what to do: rehearsal time is often limited, so the more clues you can give, the better.
LJ: Where did you learn to arrange for large ensemble? Did you have a formal training?
EP: I had a formal training in music (York University) but not in Jazz and certainly not in arranging. I listened a lot, observed what my colleagues were doing and made the rest up for myself! Certain music inspired me: Gil Evans, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Stravinsky, Bartok, Debussy. All of these gave me inspiration in matters of hearing textures, harmonies and colours. Like, for example, how Gil combines harmon mute trumpets and alto flutes: that’s in Porgy and Bess; certain keyboard voicings work well translated onto saxes or brass – that’s in Weather Report and Mahavishnu stuff. Bartok was a wonderful orchestrator; he and Stravinsky and Debussy had a nice line in making ‘out’ harmonies work – bitonal combinations etc. And Debussy has this ‘event horizon’ where sonority and harmony turn into each other. Then there are the wonderful avant-garde composers like Luciano Berio and Ligeti. So all of this helps me as an arranger/orchestrator.
Tickets for Eddie Parer’s Mister Vertigo are available via the 606 website.