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Jazz - Released July 5, 2019 | AUM Fidelity

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Jazz - Released June 15, 2018 | Centering Records

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Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | Centering Records

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Jazz - Released February 3, 2014 | AUM Fidelity

Released by AUM Fidelity as a double CD in 2010, I Plan to Stay a Believer is bassist William Parker's heart and soul tribute to vocalist and songwriter Curtis Mayfield. Parker, an extraordinarily resourceful improviser and internationally respected leader of creative ensembles, joyously celebrates the interwoven traditions of African-American musical culture by saluting an artist whose best works still define an entire mode of positive, uplifting musical expression. Mayfield rose to prominence with Jerry Butler and the Impressions in the late ‘50s, helped that group to become mainstays of Chicago soul throughout the ‘60s, and achieved superstar status in his own right during the early ‘70s. Parker's Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield Project is vividly documented in this collection. It includes material from the initial Parisian concert performance of March 2001 (which featured the voices of some 90 children); an April 2002 appearance in Amherst, Massachusetts; a live celebration at Chiasso, Switzerland in February 2007; a well-received presentation before a New York audience in June 2008, and two festive shows which took place in Botticino and Cormans, Italy in October 2008. This hefty offering comes as a pleasant and welcome surprise. It is in some ways comparable to the late 20th century "Avant-Pop" excursions of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, as well as Bowie's unforgettable collaborations with his wife Fontella Bass. A fine vocalist from Texas named Leena Conquest performed beautifully throughout Parker's Mayfield tribute series, and there were visitations from Brooklyn's New Life Tabernacle Generation of Praise Choir. With Parker as veritable anchors of the Project were pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Hamid Drake as well as poet Amiri Baraka. Extra motivation was provided by trumpeter Lewis Barnes, saxophonist Darryl Foster, and Sabir Mateen, who handled saxophones and flute. Additional participants have been identified as pianist Lafayette Gilchrist and percussionist Guillermo E. Brown. In addition to his contrabass, Parker may be heard playing on an African xylophone-like instrument known as the balofon, as well as the doson'ngoni, a species of West African lute. Some may recall that trumpeter Don Cherry always used to express great love and reverence for the doson'ngoni. AUM Fidelity's double-CD release is a powerful sequel to the Rai Trade label's The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield which was issued in 2007. Material for that album was drawn exclusively from a 2004 festival performance, which took place in Rome. Any and all recordings made by William Parker and his troupe in honor of Curtis Mayfield really should be obtained and played at high volume for all to hear. This is music of global relevance and cosmic importance. It is also distinctly approachable and, one might even say, embraceable. ~ arwulf arwulf
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Jazz - Released November 6, 2015 | AUM Fidelity

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Jazz - Released January 29, 2014 | AUM Fidelity

Bassist William Parker is one of the primary torch bearers for the jazz avant garde, and 2007's CORN MEAL DANCE shows yet another facet of his kaleidoscopic musicality. Streamlining his usual left-field explorations, Parker blends soul, pop, and free jazz on CORN MEAL DANCE, employing the talents of singer Leena Conquest on a batch of spectral, well-crafted tunes. Parker's usual group, which includes drummer Hamid Drake, is also here, as is the excellent pianist Eri Yamamoto. These evocative, vocal-based tracks may seem surprising to those used to Parker's usual fare, but one listen through CORN MEAL DANCE will covert the suspicious.
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Jazz - Released September 13, 2011 | Centering Records

TESTIMONY, recorded live at New York's avant-garde showcase the Knitting Factory, is a 78-minute album of unaccompanied bass solos. Those of you who did not run screaming from the room at that thought probably know that William Parker is one of the best young free-jazz players in the world. Young enough to have been influenced at an early age by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and his obvious hero Charles Mingus (Parker is easily the finest jazz bassist to come along since Mingus), Parker never had to learn this music the way that older players did. Instead, he seems to have absorbed free jazz. His playing is astonishingly fluid on these five pieces, whether on the blues-based title track or the absolutely free-lengthy improv "The Second Set," a tour de force of sound for sound's sake that never descends to instrumental grandstanding.
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Jazz - Released October 12, 2010 | AUM Fidelity

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Jazz - Released September 13, 2011 | Centering Records

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Jazz - Released August 1, 2013 | NEOS Music

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Jazz - Released February 2, 2014 | AUM Fidelity

William Parker continues to churn out CDs on a pace that might rival Steve Lacy, Satoko Fujii, or David Murray's epic proportions. While each project reaches ever higher levels, this recording from the twelfth annual Vision Festival in New York City might be close to his zenith. Three long compositions allow his some 16-piece band of horns, woodwinds, and strings to not only cut loose with potent solos as you would expect, but exist as a single crystalline entity with multiple and equal facets of ethnic, improvisational, and modern compositional forms. The music is as stunning as any Parker has devised in his career, but there are some caveats. For one, Parker plays no acoustic upright bass, leaving that to Shayne Dulberger. The oud of Brahim Frigbane and electric guitar of Joe Morris adds a lean and sparse element. But the music is generally broad ranging, expansive, and layered, thanks to the immense talents of accomplished modernists like trumpeter Lewis Barnes, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Sabir Mateen, violinist Jason Kao Hwang, Jessica Pavone on the viola, and twin drummers Gerald Cleaver and Hamid Drake. Of the three long pieces, "Lights of Lake George" is a true magnum opus. A 7/8 modal bassline joins the dancing baritone of David Sewelson and Frigbane's oud, then the wordless East Indian vocals of Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay make way for string solos from the brilliant Hwang and Pavone, the burnished trumpet of Barnes, the shenai or musette of Cole and Parker, and clarinet of Mateen. The piece is not so much about improvisation as the consistent symmetry and balance from the entire band throughout weaving intricate colors. The double reeds open on the 4/4 "Neptune's Mirror," as the distinct and jangly guitar of Morris takes over, Sewelson leads horn punctuations with a cello aside by Shiau-She Yu, then cello and oud. The piece has an eerie yet earthy feel as all strings chime in, and Bandyopadhyay recites a poem of enlightenment, while reminding us of either loved or allegedly hated humans who have passed that "we can not bring them back to life." The opener "Morning Mantra" is a modal ostinato bass and drums riff with a quick guitar from Morris under long tones from the ensemble dominated by the high-pitched double reeds in a universal tonality, with Bandyopadhyay again poetically waxing on the wind, light, and life over a multilayered framework of dense tones, themes and world-wide excursions. One who listens closely, and more than once, will reap great rewards from this, another excellent document in the growing and substantive discography of the consistently forward thinking Parker. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Black Saint

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Bassist William Parker's survival techniques demand liberty and solos for all. The members of this sextet feed off one another's energy, filling their collective plate with counterpoint, and expressing music in colors and feelings spontaneously derived from thematic motifs. Parker, a phenomenal theoretical and technical improviser, has pianist Cooper Moore, drummer Denis Charles, trumpeter Lewis Barnes, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, and alto saxophonist Rob Brown in tow. Three of these pieces were recorded live at Club Roulette in N.Y.C., the fourth at the Knitting Factory. Clocking in at nearly 40 minutes, "Testimony of No Future" develops from the piano-bass-drums trio's bop swing rhythms that set up a three-note pattern that the horns then state and extrapolate on with counterpoint. This leads into extended solo fare from everyone -- simple and direct, easy to follow, yet dense and saturated. The beautiful "Anast in Crisis, Mouth Full of Fresh Cut Flowers" has Moore's spiritual lines influencing Brown's alto greatly, with Moncur chiming in for a lucid, free association for seven minutes, again based on three notes. "Testimony of the Stir Pot" has thematic nuances that grow subtler over 20 minutes while horn lines flow parallel to Moore's lightning-quick runs. "The Square Sun," from the Knitting Factory session, features Barnes' rubato-style trumpet (which shows his unique blend of jazz past and present); Moore's haunting, dancing figures; percussionist Jackson Krall's wisp-of-smoke accents; and Parker's mouse-squeak bowed bass. Some tour de force music is found here, which makes one wonder if these performances wouldn't have yielded another CD or three from this band of extraordinary avant-gardists. Highly recommended for those who take their freedoms seriously. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released February 3, 2014 | AUM Fidelity

William Parker's abiding interest in the "ancient DNA/cultural codex that connects Africa to the Americas" is represented respectively by his use on several tracks of the doson ngoni, an eight-stringed version of the traditional Manding hunting guitar, and the Olmec Group, a merengue quartet of two percussionists, accordion, and alto sax joined by Dave Sewelson on saxophones and Todd Nicholson on bass. The curious combination of merengue's high-energy, Parker's rattling gourd, and free jazz sax sounds strangely clinical in this studio recording, but works well enough when driven forward by a strong bass riff ("Codex"). However, it pales into insignificance when compared to Parker's solo tracks. While his doson ngoni ramblings are pleasant enough, his bass work is magnificent, from the somber take on the spiritual "There Is a Balm in Gilead" to the impassioned "Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy" (first heard on the 1996 Homestead album of the same name by Parker and In Order to Survive) to the celestial high harmonics of "Cathedral of Light." And another epic solo comes as a bonus cut in the form of "In Case of Accident," originally released on 1994 on Parker's Centering imprint and long unavailable. ~ Dan Warburton
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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Centaur Records, Inc.