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Jazz - Released April 30, 2013 | Jazzwerkstatt

Booklet Distinctions CHOC de JAZZmagazine-jazzman
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released July 23, 2021 | AUM Fidelity

Booklet
While most musicians look for a singular style they can master, and which sets them apart, jazz bassist William Parker's way is his style—forward motion and a constant churn of fertile ideas that flow through his head and fingers. He's an expert at building free-flowing conversation with endless combinations of players—some new acquaintances, many who are old friends—offering lots of room for collaborative ideas and allowing equal time to steer while he follows. William Parker describes his music in liner notes to Painters Winter as "a tribute to the flow of rhythm as melody and pulsation." This is not to say that there isn't also genius in what he does because clearly there is. And while he is most often called a free jazz player, there is much structure, subtle melody, and devotion to rhythmic grounding in his subtle, complex playing—sometimes with a bow, other times pizzicato (plucking the strings). A teeming creativity animates his generally long (10 minutes plus) compositions. Here in a pair of records recorded together and released on the same day, two of Parker's major modes are the focus. Under the Sun Ra-like title of Mayan Space Station, Parker partners with longtime collaborator drummer Gerald Cleaver and blazing avant/psych rock electric guitar player Ava Mendoza in a classic jazz rock power trio. Mendoza often dominates the sonic proceedings; in the opener "Tabasco" distorted single notes spray across a crowded soundscape where Parker's steady playing lights the middle of the road ahead while Cleaver swerves from side to side relying on cymbals and snare to add rhythmic muddle. The mix on Parker's recordings is clever and generous as well, with players deliberately moving slightly as if they were stepping forward for a solo. In "Domingo" Parker is out front with Mendoza behind casting long, at times almost siren-like lines interspersed with bursts of dense chittering exclamations. The title track prominently features Cleaver leading the way with a steady rhythm over which Mendoza reaches for the cosmos. Painters Winter is a sequel of sorts to Painters Spring, a record that Parker, drummer Hamid Drake, and brass and reed polyglot Daniel Carter made together in 2000. This is Parker's quieter, more contemplative side though you'd never know it from the bustling walking bass line and aggressive driving rhythms of the opener "Groove 77." On the title track Parker mixes squiggles on the trombonium with plaintive lines from Carter on flute. Parker again plays an exotic instrument—this time the shakuhacbhi—on "Painted Scarf" which playfully entwines with Carter, this time on sax. Drake works his own innovative idiom throughout. In the closer "A Curley Russell," a tribute to the bebop bass great, Parker falls into a rare steady groove over which Carter flutters and cries. Having released nearly 60 albums as leader or co-leader since the turn of the 21st century, Parker's profusion of music doesn't always produce transcendent results, but rarely falls short on revelations. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released July 23, 2021 | AUM Fidelity

Booklet
While most musicians look for a singular style they can master, and which sets them apart, jazz bassist William Parker's way is his style—forward motion and a constant churn of fertile ideas that flow through his head and fingers. He's an expert at building free-flowing conversation with endless combinations of players—some new acquaintances, many who are old friends—offering lots of room for collaborative ideas and allowing equal time to steer while he follows. William Parker describes his music in liner notes to Painters Winter as "a tribute to the flow of rhythm as melody and pulsation." This is not to say that there isn't also genius in what he does because clearly there is. And while he is most often called a free jazz player, there is much structure, subtle melody, and devotion to rhythmic grounding in his subtle, complex playing—sometimes with a bow, other times pizzicato (plucking the strings). A teeming creativity animates his generally long (10 minutes plus) compositions. Here in a pair of records recorded together and released on the same day, two of Parker's major modes are the focus. Under the Sun Ra-like title of Mayan Space Station, Parker partners with longtime collaborator drummer Gerald Cleaver and blazing avant/psych rock electric guitar player Ava Mendoza in a classic jazz rock power trio. Mendoza often dominates the sonic proceedings; in the opener "Tabasco" distorted single notes spray across a crowded soundscape where Parker's steady playing lights the middle of the road ahead while Cleaver swerves from side to side relying on cymbals and snare to add rhythmic muddle. The mix on Parker's recordings is clever and generous as well, with players deliberately moving slightly as if they were stepping forward for a solo. In "Domingo" Parker is out front with Mendoza behind casting long, at times almost siren-like lines interspersed with bursts of dense chittering exclamations. The title track prominently features Cleaver leading the way with a steady rhythm over which Mendoza reaches for the cosmos. Painters Winter is a sequel of sorts to Painters Spring, a record that Parker, drummer Hamid Drake, and brass and reed polyglot Daniel Carter made together in 2000. This is Parker's quieter, more contemplative side though you'd never know it from the bustling walking bass line and aggressive driving rhythms of the opener "Groove 77." On the title track Parker mixes squiggles on the trombonium with plaintive lines from Carter on flute. Parker again plays an exotic instrument—this time the shakuhacbhi—on "Painted Scarf" which playfully entwines with Carter, this time on sax. Drake works his own innovative idiom throughout. In the closer "A Curley Russell," a tribute to the bebop bass great, Parker falls into a rare steady groove over which Carter flutters and cries. Having released nearly 60 albums as leader or co-leader since the turn of the 21st century, Parker's profusion of music doesn't always produce transcendent results, but rarely falls short on revelations. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 29, 2021 | Centering Records

Booklet
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Jazz - Released June 15, 2018 | Centering Records

Booklet
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Soul - Released September 14, 2010 | AUM Fidelity

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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 5, 2019 | AUM Fidelity

William Parker founded In Order to Survive, his first functioning small group, in 1993. Apart from the drum chair -- held alternately by Denis Charles and Susie Ibarra before Hamid Drake came aboard in the 21st century -- the membership has included saxophonist Rob Brown, pianist Cooper-Moore. They released three acclaimed albums during the 1990s including the studio offering Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy, and live albums The Peach Orchard and Posium Pendasem, before going on hiatus until 2012 when they reconvened at the Vision Festival. The music they performed was included on Parker's Wood Flute Songs box set. In October 2016, they entered the studio for the first time since 1995, emerging with half of the exquisite double-set Meditation/Resurrection, issued in 2017. Subsequently two nights were booked at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn to celebrate. Live/Shapeshifter presents the entirety of the music played on night two. The first disc is comprised of the 50-plus-minute "Eternal Is the Voice of Love" suite in five movements. The music is beautifully structured, built around Parker's love of Japanese and Chinese folk music, Native American songs, Mingus, and of course, modernist avant-jazz. The 20-minute "Part I: Entrance to the Tone World" finds Drake rumbling on his tom-toms with Cooper-Moore's piano offering speculative, nearly classical phrases and accents. Brown moves between bluesy phasing and drones. "Part I" unfolds holistically as improvisation and composed sections are played simultaneously. As it unfolds, alternating sections of groove, post-bop blues, modal improvisation, and angular swing all move to the fore. "Part III: If Ever There Is a Chance" walks a tightrope between Cooper-Moore's balladic classicism, Parker's pizzicato lyricism, and Drake's cymbal flourishes and haunted wood flute. After a glorious modal intro by the pianist, "Part IV: A Situation" becomes an explosive interplay of ideas, with Brown's lyricism playing counter to the pianist's jumping chord voicings. The second set/disc, commences with Brown offering a melody simultaneously worthy of Ornette Coleman and Paul Desmond, as the pianist comps on a set of dark, angular chords, Drake rolls and fills on the snare and Parker punctuates phrases, underscoring each line as it develops while guiding the piece forward. Scripted concepts and free playing alternate in its architecture. "Newark" composed for former member Grachan Moncur III, is introduced by a bass fugue, followed by percussion, sax, and finally, piano on a halved beat. Its thematic opening section diverges into call and response and becomes meditative at its nadir, with the piano languidly guiding Parker's bass. "In Order to Survive" is the band's go-to masterpiece; it's played with fervor and joy. The quartet's members alternate, leading and following with angular interruptions that surprise throughout. Live/Shapeshifter is not only a welcome addition to In Order to Survive's shelf, but a powerful document that reveals the intimate knowledge these players have of each other; they don't have to listen too closely to one another in order to respond or move the conversation deeper and wider -- respect, acumen, and emotion accomplish that. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | Centering Records

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Classical - Released September 13, 2011 | Centering Records

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released September 17, 2003 | 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. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 13, 2002 | 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 /TiVo
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World - Released August 11, 2004 | 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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Les Disques Victo

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Classical - Released September 13, 2011 | Centering Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Black Saint

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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 6, 2015 | AUM Fidelity

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Jazz - Released May 19, 2014 | Clean Feed

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Soul - Released October 12, 2010 | AUM Fidelity

Bassist William Parker's exceptionally fine and friendly-to-listen-to album Uncle Joe's Spirit House has been warmly received as a comparatively "inside" listening experience, because unlike virtually anything else in his discography prior to its release in 2010, this is a study in organ combo jazz. A clearly articulated musical chemistry exists between Parker, saxophonist Darryl Foster, organist Cooper Moore, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Their achievement extends a glorious tradition rooted in Lockjaw Davis and Stanley Turrentine's collaborations with Shirley Scott. It is even more directly descended from the toothier combinations of Roland Kirk and Brother Jack McDuff or David Murray and Don Pullen. The deeper truth behind this recording is that it constitutes a joyous honoring of Parker's Uncle Joe and Aunt Carrie Lee Edwards, residents of the Bronx who were both in their early nineties and preparing to observe their 65th wedding anniversary when this recording came about. Parker's thoughtful commentary in the album notes references a personal evolution during which he spent three decades exploring what he describes as his "own world." With the formation of the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra in 1994 came a steadily expanding realization that "the real art is the art of living." A particularly moving passage in the text acknowledges the art of "raising one's family through hard work, be it carpenter, electrician, mailman, policeman, garbage man, and perhaps the most difficult of all jobs, the stay at home mother." Parker honors his Aunt Carrie and Uncle Joe as masters of the art of living, and in a larger sense he is revering all of his ancestors with this recording. It is thematically linked to Parker's 2000 AUM Fidelity release O'Neal's Porch, an apparent salute to yet another uncle. Whether or not that linkage extends to the albums Bob's Pink Cadillac and Luc's Lantern remains to be articulated by the artist, whose highly evolved poetic sensibilities have borne fruit in ways which utterly defy all critical preconceptions. What is certain is that with every recording he sends out into the world, William Parker's personal blend of spirituality, surreality, and musicality references every aspect of his -- and our -- existence. © arwulf arwulf /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 9, 2020 | AUM Fidelity

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Jazz - Released May 1, 2010 | Silta Records