Reviews that mention William Parker

July 6, 2016

Ken Aldcroft-William Parker

Live at the Tranzac Vol. 1
Trio Records TRP DS04-023

By Ken Waxman

Toronto’s Tranzac isn’t Carnegie Hall. The midtown space, initially a social club for Australians and New Zealanders – hence the name – is now one of the city’s busiest outposts for music, improvised and other. Like NYC’s ABC No Rio or 5C Cultural Center though, adventurous sounds compensate for the grungy environment, with guitarist Ken Aldcroft one of the most active organizers here and at other city spots. Besides collaborating with many locals, Aldcroft has built up ongoing relationships with out-of-towners like Wilbert de Joode and Joe McPhee. Live at the Tranzac Vol. 1 preserves a particularly inspired set by the guitarist and bassist William Parker. Unlike some well-known players who arrive in a city as if they’re Old West gunslingers bringing their sharpshooting skill to help beleaguered townsfolk, Parker is more like a visiting firefighter called in to a natural disaster. He’s there to cooperative with others to get the job done the best way possible. MORE

March 12, 2016

Dikeman/Parker/Drake

Live at La Resistenza
El Negocito Records eNR041

Christian Lillinger

Grund

Pirouet PIT 3086

Die Hochstapler

Plays the music of Alvin R. Buckley

Umlaut ub007

Théo Ceccaldi’s Quartet

Petit Moutarde

ONJazz JP-001

Ziporyn/Zimpel/Zemler/Riley

Green Light

MultiKulti MPTO 12

Something in the Air: Young Blood Still Pumps in Jazz

By Ken Waxman

Child prodigies really don’t exist in improvised music. Occasionally there may be some youngster known for jazz playing. But unlike other musics which depend on a performer having a cute image or being able to copy what’s on the score paper, improvising demands full exposure of an inner self. Lacking maturity the majority of these tyros soon disappear. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t young improvising musicians. But to create notable works, like the skills of exceptional actors or visual artists, true musical talent is almost always refined during the player’s twenties or thirties. MORE

February 26, 2016

Steve Swell’s Kende Dreams

Hommage à Bartok
Silkheart SHCD 160

Dave Burrell/Steve Swell

Turning Point

NoBusiness NBCD 70

Working forward in his career as one of the busiest trombonists in New York’s Free Music scene, Steve Swell has in the last little while been drawn to program music. That doesn’t mean a turn away from open-ended improv, of which he has performed masterly alongside everyone from Tim Berne to Peter Brötzmann. It’s just like an actor trying out classical as well as contemporary roles he transmits the artistry implicit in one to the other. MORE

January 1, 2016

NPR’s 10th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot
2015

Ken Waxman (The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)

NEW RELEASES

  1. Roscoe Mitchell, Celebrating Fred Anderson (Nessa)
  2. Daniel Carter-William Parker-Federico Ughi, Navajo Sunrise (Rudi)
  3. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Rafal Mazur, Unknowable (Not Two)
  4. Anna Webber, Refraction (Pirouet)
  5. Tim Berne, You've Been Watching Me (ECM)
  6. Evan Parker, Seven (Victo)
  7. Samuel Blaser, Spring Rain (Whirlwind)
  8. Akira Sakata-Giovanni Di Domenico-John Edwards-Steve Noble, Live at Cafe Oto (Clamshell)
  9. James Falzone & the Renga Ensemble, The Room Is (Allos Documents)
  10. George Freeman & Chico Freeman, All in the Family (Southport)
MORE

December 11, 2015

Festival Report

Krakow Jazz Autumn
By Ken Waxman

Krakow’s Kazimierz district, which includes Poland’s oldest standing synagogue building, and architecture dating mostly from the 18th century, was early on a centre of intellectual ferment, and more recently known for its large concentration of bars and restaurants. But it’s likely that rarely has the area witnessed such an open display of power and emotion as took place during German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s four-day residency November 5 to 8 at the basement Alchemia Club during Krakow Jazz Autumn. MORE

November 21, 2015

Sonoluminescence Trio

Telling Stories
Art Stew Records ASR 003 2015

By Ken Waxman

A band whose improvising is as enlightening as its name, which refers to light produced as sound waves passes through liquid, this trio combination confirms that fluid musicianship can easily overcome geography and separation. A tale of three cities: baritone saxophonist David Mott lives in Toronto, percussionist Jesse Stewart in Ottawa and bassist William Parker in New York, the Sonoluminescence three don’t play together very often. But when they do intercommunication is paramount because exposing unique sonic patterns is most important to all than sporting showy techniques. MORE

November 6, 2015

Giving birth to sound: women in creative music

Renate Da Rin, William Parker (editors)
Buddy Knife Publications

By Ken Waxman

When six-year-old piano student Alexandra Grimal wrote her first composition, her teacher refused to believe her, angrily insisting her older brother must have written it. Now a saxophonist, Grimal had a similar experience when she was 13 and premiered her first jazz piece for a friend’s mother. That woman too refused to believe it was original.

Anecdotes such as these in part illustrate the difficulty women have being accepted as serious composers and performers – even in so-called creative music. Giving birth to sound examines these circumstances through the first-person experiences of 48 musicians. Residing in Europe or the United States, the respondents are involved with improvised, notated, electronic and world music and remarkably candid about their musical lives. Still the volume is neither academic study nor practical hand book. The interviewees answered 20 questions and their replies are printed without comment. However, since the queries are as pointed “has being a women held you back in the development of your musical career” and “do you think you paid a price being an artist” or as broad as “what is magic” the worth of each entry varies. Some are direct and to-the-point; others lapse into generalities; a couple even detour into fables. Typos and imprecise language are left unchanged. Plus printing paragraphs in various colors and using an assortment of type sizes and styles for emphasis often irritates rather than illuminates. MORE

October 1, 2015

Matthew Shipp Quartet

Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers
RogueArt ROG-0057

Matthew Shipp/Mat Walerian Duo

The Uppercut- Live at Okuden

ESP-Disk 5007

Bobby Kapp

Themes 4 Transmutation

No Label No #

By Ken Waxman

With his mature artistry fully established following 20 years of recording and recent leadership of a working trio with Michael Bisio and Whit Dickey, pianist Matthew Shipp continues to defy conventions by trying out various formulas and partnerships. For example Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers is an extended meditation on nine of the keyboardist’s composition by Shipp plus bassist William Parker, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Sabir Mateen and drummer Gerald Cleaver; all of whom he has collaborated with in the past. A sharp left turn The Uppercut - Live at Okuden is a first recording of a meeting of minds between Shipp and Polish reedist Mat Walerian. Finally Themes 4 Transmutation is a rare below-the-radar sideman turn by Shipp joining two other younger players to work with veteran drummer Bobby Kapp, one of the original New Thing percussionists from the ‘60s. MORE

February 1, 2015

Frank Lowe Quartet

Out Loud
Triple Point Records TPR 209

Don Pullen

Richard’s Tune

Delmark/Sackville CD2-3008

Derek Bailey/Joëlle Léandre/George Lewis/Evan Parker

Dunois 1982

Fou Records FR-CD 06

Steve Lacy

Cycles (1976-80)

Emanem 5205

Ted Daniel’s Energy Module

Energy Module

NoBusiness Records NBCD 72/73

Something In The Air: Revolutionary Records Redux

By Ken Waxman

About 40 years on, so-called Free Jazz and Free Music from the late sixties, seventies and early eighties, doesn’t sound so revolutionary any more. The idea of improvising without chord structures or fixed rhythm has gradually seeped into most players’ consciousness, with the genre(s) now accepted as particular methods for improvisation along with Bop, Dixieland and Fusion. Historical perspective also means that many sessions originally recorded during that period are now being released. Some are reissues, usually with additional music added; others are newly unearthed tapes being issued for the first time. The best discs offer up formerly experimental sounds whose outstanding musicianship is more of a lure than nostalgia. MORE

January 26, 2015

William Parker Quartet

Live in Wroclove
ForTune 0002/002

Daniel Carter William Parker Federico Ughi

Navajo Sunrise

Rudi Records RRJ1016

Even after more than 50 years of European support for advanced American Free Jazz, unique stimulation is usually apparent when New World musician perform in certain continental circumstances. Take the two CDs here. Both feature New York bass master/composer William Parker, were recorded 18 months apart in Poland (Live in Wroclove) or Italy (Navajo Sunrise) with a co-op trio or his regular working band, and each have something characteristic to offer. MORE

January 26, 2015

Daniel Carter William Parker Federico Ughi

Navajo Sunrise
Rudi Records RRJ1016

William Parker Quartet

Live in Wroclove

ForTune 0002/002

Even after more than 50 years of European support for advanced American Free Jazz, unique stimulation is usually apparent when New World musician perform in certain continental circumstances. Take the two CDs here. Both feature New York bass master/composer William Parker, were recorded 18 months apart in Poland (Live in Wroclove) or Italy (Navajo Sunrise) with a co-op trio or his regular working band, and each have something characteristic to offer. MORE

October 26, 2014

Jeff Cosgrove/Matthew Shipp/William Parker

Alternating Currents
Grizzley Music 002

Benjamin Duboc/Didier Lasserre/Henri Roger

Parole Plongée

Facing You/IMR 004

Taking one of Jazz’s classic formations as its starting point(s), two piano trios bring novel ideas and completely different approaches to the standard piano/bass/drums ensemble. Intriguingly each of these combos – one American and one French – adds a fresh player to a duo that over time has fused into an unbeatable combination. Notwithstanding the imposing sounds made by each group, the feeling remains that one hitherto unproven trio ends up sounding as if the new player is a guest at his own party, while the other engagement is more organic. MORE

June 15, 2014

Tony Malaby Tamarindo

Somos Agua
Clean Feed CF 304 CD

By Ken Waxman

An essay on the intricacies of saxophone improvisation, New York tenor man Tony Malaby explorers every nuance of reed sounds on this matchless session, backed only by the four-square pacing of William Parker’s double bass and the rhythmic flow of drummer Nasheet Waits. Reminiscent of similar trio tours-de-force by Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson, the seven selections make up a suite whose parts flow logically and seamlessly into one another. At the same time, Malaby’s solos confirm his experimental credo by exposing as many split tones and screeches as emotive flutters and gentling tones. MORE

November 8, 2013

Melodic Art-Tet

Eponymous
NoBusiness Records NBCD 56

The Group

Live

No Business Records NBCD 50

By Ken Waxman

Although according to detractors, all free-jazz sessions sound alike, these high-quality dates from 1974 and 1986 put a lie to that supposition. Both also suggest why the music was never popular. Each CD shares trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah and features all stars. 1974’s Melodic Art-Tet included reedist Charles Brackeen, drummer Roger Blank, bassist William Parker and percussionist Tony Waters (Ramadan Mumeen). 1986’s The Group was saxophonist Marion Brown, violinist Billy Bang, bassists Sirone or Fred Hopkins plus drummer Andrew Cyrille. MORE

October 14, 2013

Festival Report

Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

New combination and new conceptions, sporadically sprinkled with touches of exotica, characterized the 20th anniversary edition of the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) September 4-8. Affiliated with a contiguous academic Colloquium on improvisation, the GJF, located in a small university city, fewer than 100 kilometres west of Toronto, has from its beginning stretched the definition of “jazz”, while avoiding populist pandering. The approach obviously works well, with the GJF slowly expanding. On Saturday, afternoon and evening free outdoor concerts now take place in front of city hall; the free, dusk-to-dawn Nuit Blanche offers intimates performances in non-traditional downtown spaces. Plus a full schedule of workshops and formal concerts unrolls each day. MORE

September 3, 2013

Perelman/Shipp/Parker/Cleaver

Serendipity
Leo Records CD LR 668

Perelman/Shipp/Bisio/Dickey

The Edge

Leo Records CD LR 667

One of the decisions – of many – that has to be made when playing purely improvised music is whether to break inspiration into bite-sized pieces or eject the narratives as mammoth slabs. On these complementary CDs, Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman, who has recorded in context ranging from solo to septets, tries both on for size. While correspondingly stimulating, the personnel of the two quartets defines the creations more than the instruments used. MORE

June 13, 2013

Thollem/Parker/Cline

The Gowanus Session
Porter Records PRCD -4068

By Ken Waxman

Turning the discreet piano-guitar-bass formation on its head are the energetic and ardent improvisations of pianist Thollem McDonas, bassist William Parker and guitarist Nels Cline. One listen to the stabbing keyboard runs, thick double bass rhythms and guitar distortions exposed during The Gowanus Session’s six selections destroys the polite-jazz label that was created for such lounge-favored trios with this instrumentation as Nat “King” Cole’s and Oscar Peterson’s in the ‘40s and ‘50s. MORE

May 28, 2013

Abdelhaï Bennani Trio

Encounters
JaZt Tapes CD 037

When measured against the hegemony of the global music industry, all really creative improvisers labor on different levels of obscurity, no matter the excellence of their presentation. So it is with these encounters, unapologetic Free Jazz of the highest calibre, where the leader is the least known of the participants.

That’s because Fès, Morocco-born tenor saxophonist Abdelhaï Bennani’s hard-nosed improvisations were developed and are almost exclusively heard in France. Isolated from the American mainstream, his sessions with such fellow travellers as trumpeter Itaru Oki guitarist Camel Zekri and bassist Benjamin Duboc remain an unheralded pleasure for many. This disc, recorded in a Paris club at the turn of this century, is as notable as any by other saxophonists of his era and proclivities – Bennani was born in 1950 – with stalwart associates who are better known in the Free Jazz gestalt. American-raised, long-time French resident Alan Silva plays piano and orchestral synthesizer, while William Parker, one of the most ubiquitous figures in Free Music is on bass. MORE

January 11, 2013

Rhapsody’s 2012 Jazz Critics' Poll

Individual Ballot
From Ken Waxman

• Your name and primary affiliation(s) (no more than two, please)

Ken Waxman

Jazz Word (www.jazzword.com); The New York City Jazz Record

• Your choices for 2012's ten best new releases listed in descending order one-through-ten.

1. François Houle Genera Songlines SGL 1595-2

2. Fred Ho/Quincy Saul The Music of Cal Massey: A Tribute Mutable/Big Red Media 004

3. William Parker Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987 NoBusiness Records NBCD 42-47 MORE

October 12, 2012

William Parker

Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987
NoBusiness NBCD 42-47

Something In the Air: Discovering Long Hidden Advanced Jazz

By Ken Waxman

When New York’s now justly famous, Vision Festival first took place in 1996 committed jazz fans greeted the event as if they were witnessing a full-fledged musical resurrection. So many advanced players of unbridled free form and experimental sounds were involved that the annual festival soon became a crowded week-long summer happening. Ironically – which was one reason for the Fest’s popularity – these probing sounds and its players were supposed to have vanished after the revolutionary 1960s, superseded first by Jazz-Rock pounders’ simple melodies and then jazz’s Young Lions who aped the sounds and sartorial choices of the 1950s – both of which had major record label support. Still bassist/composer/bandleader William Parker’s Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987 NoBusiness NBCD 42-47 aptly demonstrates, experimental sounds never vanished; they just went underground. As the 24 often lengthy tracks that make up this 6-CD set of hitherto unreleased material substantiates in its breadth of performances, sonically questing players were improvising and composing during those so-called lost years. But it took the founding of the Vision Festival by Parker and his wife, dancer/choreographer Patricia Nicholson, to provide the proper medium for this work. Major stylists such as saxophonists Charles Gayle and David S. Ware, vocalist Ellen Christi and trumpeter Roy Campbell, all of whom are represented in the set, would go on to mentor a multiplying groundswell of younger rule stretchers and future Vision Fest participants. Also, despite being professionally recorded, the conservative climate of the times, plus the cost of producing and distributing LPs, left the tapes used for these CDs stacked in performers’ apartments. Now the belated release of Centering fills in a blank in jazz history, equivalent to what coming across a cache of unreleased John Cage or Morton Feldman recordings would do. Included in the package is an attractively designed 66-page paperback book with vintage photos, posters and sketches along with essays discussing the background of the sessions, the musicians’ experiences and the New York scene. MORE

September 5, 2011

William Parker & ICI Ensemble

Winter Sun Crying
Neos Jazz 41008

Nicolas Caloia Quartet

Tilting

No # No label

Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver

Floating Islands

ILK 162 CD

Henry Threadgill Zooid

This Brings Us To Volume II

Pi Recording PI 36

Something In The Air: Guelph Jazz Festival 2011

By Ken Waxman

--For Whole Note Vol. 17 #1

A highlight of the international calendar, the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), September 7 to 11, has maintained its appeal to both the adventurous and the curious over 18 years. It has done so mixing educational symposia with populist outdoor concerts, featuring performers ranging from established masters to experimenters from all over the world. MORE

April 8, 2011

FMP In Rückblick

In Retrospect 1969-2010
FMP CD 137 - FMP CD 148

Something in the Air: FMP`s 40th Anniversary

By Ken Waxman

Throughout jazz history, independent labels have typified sounds of the time. In the Swing era it was Commodore; Modern jazz was prominent on Blue Note and Prestige; and with Improvised Music, FMP is one of the longest lasting imprints. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Berlin-based label has given listeners a spectacular birthday present with FMP In Rückblick – In Retrospect 1969-2010,12 [!] CDs representing FMP’s past and future – the oldest from 1975, the newest, by American cellist Tristan Honsinger and German guitarist Olaf Rupp from 2010, half previously unissued – plus an LP-sized, 218-page book, lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs, posters, album covers and a discography. MORE

February 12, 2011

Tony Malaby’s Tamarindo

Live
Clean Feed CF 200CD

By Ken Waxman

Despite the overtly Christian religious iconography on the cover of Tamarindo Live, it would seem that the faith affirmed by this expanded version of saxophonist Tony Malaby’s band is that of free jazz. Moreover, the addition of veteran trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, certainly no fundamentalist, to the core trio filled out by second-generation drum stylist Nasheet Waits and free jazz’s most omnipresent bassist William Parker, elevates the program to an even higher spiritual and sonic plane. MORE

July 8, 2010

Jameel Moondoc

Muntu Recordings
No Business Records NBCD 7-8-9

By Ken Waxman

Made up of then-young improvisers who would become better known, Muntu could be described as one of the supergroups of New York’s so-called Loft Era; if the self-aggrandizing term wasn’t antithetical to free music. This handsomely packaged set collects three CDs of the band in different configurations plus a 115-page soft-cover book with a Muntu sessionography and essays on the band, the Black Arts Movement and the Loft Era. Of course this would be mere pretty packaging if the sounds didn’t live up to the hype. Careful listening reveals that Muntu began well and only improved. Only its members’ other projects forced it to dissolve. MORE

June 1, 2010

Matthew Shipp

Nu Bop Live
Rai Trade RTPJ 0015

The Frame Quartet

35 MM

Okka Disk OD 12078

Rempis/Rosaly

Cyrillic

482 Music 482-1064

Connie Crothers-Michel Bisio

Sessions at 475 Kent

Mutable 17537-2

Extended Play: Combos: Ad Hoc and Long Constituted in Toronto

By Ken Waxman

Long-established jazz groups have become as common as pop hits based on Mozart melodies topping the charts – they sometimes exist. But with accomplished improvisers tempted by side projects, bands often reconstitute and sidemen regularly have their own gigs. In most cases, though, this doesn’t affect the music’s quality. MORE

May 7, 2010

William Parker

At Somewhere There
Barnyard Records BR 0313

An almost hour-long solo recital may seem daunting, but New York bassist William Parker easily impresses, as this bravura invention recorded at a local performance space attests. Cathedral Wisdom Light, this CD’s over-48-minute showpiece, is animated by his nearly limitless technique which prods, pulses, pummels and propels polyphonic tones and textures from the four-strings and resonating wood of the bull fiddle.

Resolutely arco – although sporadic plucks sometimes parallel the bow movement – the tempo is never less than andante and more than allegro. Within these parameters Parker layers phrases, note clusters and unexpected vamps, chafing wood and splitting string tones as well as agitato stops and chunky sul tasto expansions into the multiphonic narrative. As the shuffle-bowed fantasia evolves, taunt, creaking and swabbed timbres distend so that these pressured strokes shudder with affiliated partials as well as fundamental notes. Sometimes displaying portamento finesse, at points Parker mercurially showcases split-second variants on reveille, parallel bebop vamps and even a minor variant on legato chamber music. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois
Leo CD LR 535

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions

RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel

Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere
Ambiance Magnétique AM 184

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois

Leo CD LR 535

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions

RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel

Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel
Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois

Leo CD LR 535

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions

RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions
RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel

Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois

Leo CD LR 535

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

November 20, 2008

Kidd Jordan

The Vision Festival New York
June 11, 2008

Figuratively – and usually single-handedly – carrying the banner for experimental Jazz in New Orleans for many years, tenor saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, 73, must have felt metaphorically out-in-the-cold on many occasions. But heat was certainly in evidence – literally and emotionally – mid-June in New York as a turn-away crowd helped celebrate the reedman’s Lifetime Achievement with a series of concerts.

Highlight of the 13th Annual Vision Festival that took place at the Lower East Side’s Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, the five sets honoring Jordan were hot – as was the venue. Despite a few strategically placed revolving fans, the temperature hovered around 35 degrees Celsius in the venerable space, with body heat from the packed audiences adding to the ventilation challenges. MORE

August 15, 2008

By Any Means

Live at Crescendo
Ayler Records aylCD- 077/078

Charles Gayle, William Parker & Rashied Ali

Touchin’ On Trane

Jazzwerkstatt JW024

Almost 16 years to the day separate these two live sessions, yet not one member of this trio of veteran players appears to have lost his edge or gusto.

Dispelling once again the old shibboleth that jazz is a young man’s game, saxophonist Charles Gayle, 68, drummer Rashied Ali, 73, and bassist William Parker, 56, create enough fire and commitment – mixed with experience – on both sets to enliven any program of improvised music. MORE

August 15, 2008

Charles Gayle, William Parker & Rashied Ali

Touchin’ On Trane
Jazzwerkstatt JW024

By Any Means

Live at Crescendo

Ayler Records aylCD- 077/078

Almost 16 years to the day separate these two live sessions, yet not one member of this trio of veteran players appears to have lost his edge or gusto.

Dispelling once again the old shibboleth that jazz is a young man’s game, saxophonist Charles Gayle, 68, drummer Rashied Ali, 73, and bassist William Parker, 56, create enough fire and commitment – mixed with experience – on both sets to enliven any program of improvised music. MORE

March 28, 2008

William Parker Double Quartet

Alphaville Suite
Rogue Art: ROG 0010

William Parker/ Raining On The Moon

Corn Meal Dance

AUM Fidelity AUM043

William Parker

The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield – Live in Rome

Rai Trade RTPJ 0011

Concerned with different varieties of the Black vernacular experience, each of these fine CDs by bassist William Parker is impressive on its own. More profoundly each illustrates in a different way that the musical divisions among jazz, R&B, improvised music and soul are, in many cases, merely arbitrary. MORE

March 28, 2008

William Parker

The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield – Live in Rome
Rai Trade RTPJ 0011

William Parker/ Raining On The Moon

Corn Meal Dance

AUM Fidelity AUM043

William Parker Double Quartet

Alphaville Suite

Rogue Art: ROG 0010

Concerned with different varieties of the Black vernacular experience, each of these fine CDs by bassist William Parker is impressive on its own. More profoundly each illustrates in a different way that the musical divisions among jazz, R&B, improvised music and soul are, in many cases, merely arbitrary. MORE

March 28, 2008

William Parker/Raining On The Moon

Corn Meal Dance
AUM Fidelity AUM043

William Parker Double Quartet

Alphaville Suite

Rogue Art: ROG 0010

William Parker

The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield – Live in Rome

Rai Trade RTPJ 0011

Concerned with different varieties of the Black vernacular experience, each of these fine CDs by bassist William Parker is impressive on its own. More profoundly each illustrates in a different way that the musical divisions among jazz, R&B, improvised music and soul are, in many cases, merely arbitrary. MORE

December 4, 2007

Steve Swell’s Fire Into Music

Swimming in a Galaxy of Goodwill and Sorrow
Rogue Art ROG-0009

Showcasing four major players operating at the top of their game, this nearly 73- minute CD is a pulsating and passionate essay on top-flight composition and improvisation that stays fully in the present while subtly referencing the past. Most pieces feature expected call-and-response from the horns, and the heads are nearly always recapped.

With his ability to articulate J. J. Johnson-style runs as effortlessly as he finesses Classic Jazz inflected tremolo slurs, trombonist Steve Swell, who wrote two-thirds of the tracks, builds many of them on the contrapuntal contrast between his solid timbres and the astringent trills of veteran alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc. As their intertwined output explores the spectrum of extended techniques, the tunes’ fundamental rhythmic shape is maintained by bassist William Parker. With that function solidified, drummer Hamid Drake – who may, along with the bassist, be the most recorded advanced jazz player of this century – pops and ruffs his drums, whacks wood blocks and generally elasticizes the beat. MORE

November 27, 2006

William Parker

Long Hidden: The Olmec Series
AUM Fidelity AUM 036

As much World Music as Free Improv, Long Hidden features William Parker, Free Jazz’s most accomplished master bassist, exploring a couple of novel musical paths.

Besides four expected solo bass extravaganzas – three of which were recorded in the 1990s – there are also three, inter-related, but out-of-order tracks which showcase his skills on the specially-designed eight-string doson ngoni, or banjo-guitar. Plus there are three more songs when he takes his place as sideman with a merengue tipico music group. MORE

October 16, 2006

Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker

Palm of Soul
AUM Fidelity AUM038

Temporarily and involuntarily away from his home in the Big Easy due to Hurricane Katrina, tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan’s playing is more meditative than usual – although just as inspired – on this exceptional trio CD

Partnered by improv’s busiest rhythm section – New York bassist William Parker and Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake – Jordan, who for many years has not only been New Orleans’ most accomplished Free improviser, but often it’s only one, bring a lifetime of studied iconoclasm to the seven compositions here. Cerebral as well as fiery, he knows how to adjust his solid mid-register glottal punctuation and reverberated split tones for maximum impact. Always straightforward – although not straightahead – his improvising includes dirge-like atonal contrafacts of Crescent City classics like “Lonely Avenue” and “The Saints”. MORE

September 13, 2006

Joëlle Léandre

At The Le Mans Jazz Festival
Leo CD LR 458/459

Versatile French bassist Joëlle Léandre can always be counted upon to be dependable in her contributions to any improvisation as well as flexible in her choice of musical partners.

Starting in the early 1980s, she has performed in Europe, Asia and North America, with improv masters, innovative Free players from different cultures and younger musicians who need more exposure. Recorded during one five-day period, this two-CD set showcases her playing in five different contexts with new and old collaborators and with predictably impressive results. MORE

May 12, 2006

William Parker in Buffalo

Cookie Gilchrist found in Buffalo multi-media display
for CODA

Mimes wearing grotesque papier mâché masks and body stockings lumbered and skittered across the polished floor, as dancers, with butterfly wings on their back twirled from one side of the vaulted-ceiling room to the other. On stage, in what was formerly a church sanctuary, a dreadlocked singer recited lyrics of hope and defiance, while around him more than two dozen instrumentalists produced cacophonous seesaw melodies.

That was in scene in Buffalo, N.Y. in mid-March, as Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center hosted two, nearly sold-out evening performances of a multi-media presentation by New York bassist William Parker and his Buffalo Orchestra. In the planning stages for about two years, upstate New York’s bastion of non-mainstream art was finally able to invite Parker for a one-week residency culminating in the performance, following its move earlier this year to a new permanent home in a renovated former church in downtown Buffalo. Hallwalls’ staff was so energized by securing Parker participation, that the performances actually took place in advance of the facility’s first official show. Proper theatre lighting still has to be installed, and that part of the audience which didn’t crowd upstairs balconies, was seated on chairs borrowed from the nearby Buffalo Convention Center. MORE

September 19, 2005

WILLIAM PARKER

Luc's Lantern
Thirsty Ear THI 57158.2

WILLIAM PARKER QUARTET
Sound Unity
Aum Fidelity Aum 034

Conventional and unconventional sounds reflecting the improvisational and compositional talents of New York bassist William Parker, both these CDs are noteworthy. What's most surprising though is that the unconventional one is LUC'S LANTERN. Known as one of the prime movers in New York's avant-garde scene, Parker is still able to create a session that could have been put out by such classic 1960s piano trios as Ahmad Jamal's, Bill Evans's or Oscar Peterson's. It's unconventional in its very conventionality. MORE

September 12, 2005

Barry Guy New Orchestra

Oort – Entropy
Intakt

Maya Homburger & Barry Guy with Pierre Favre
Dakryon
Maya

By Ken Waxman
September 11, 2005

Established as one of FreeImprov’s most accomplished composer/bandleaders as well as a major improvising double bassist, Barry Guy continues to extend his musical range.

Having slimmed down his main compositional tool, the 17-piece London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO) to the more compact 10 piece, all-star Barry Guy New Orchestra (BGO), Oort – Entropy shows how the group reconstitutes specific sounds. The idea is to expand musical elements initially conceived for Guy’s trio with American pianist Marilyn Crispell and British drummer Paul Lytton. MORE

September 12, 2005

DAVID S. WARE

Live in the World
Thirsty Ear THI 57153.2

David S. Ware doesn’t shy away from the Free Jazz label. Unlike some contemporary improvisers who say they play Free Music and treat jazz the way nouveau riche yuppies view acquaintances still wearing last year’s clothes, the tenor saxophonist esteems the tradition that goes back through 1960s New Thing to take in distinctive reed stylists such as Sonny Rollins and before that Coleman Hawkins.

This three-CD set of live performances helps stake his claim as one of the foremost jazz tenor saxophone stylist in the 21st century. Made up of one 1998 Swiss concert and two Italian gigs from 2003, it features three different drummers: the band’s former trapsperson, Susie Ibarra; its present one Guillermo E. Brown; and Hamid Drake, the gentleman from Chicago who often plays with the quartet’s longtime bassist William Parker. Ware’s tough love jazz values are such that they run roughshod over any tendency towards electronica or world music in which some of the other players have indulged at other times. The three hours of music also confirm Ware’s status as a major league jazzer. MORE

May 30, 2005

COLLECTIVE 4TET

Moving along
Leo CD LR 418

Collective still as far as leadership is involved, this Swiss-American foursome seems to be MOVING ALONG on its newest CD with increased prominence for the trombonist and pianist.

Not that the role of the bassist and percussionist is reduced to that of accompaniment. When the 4tet features one of the most cohesive rhythm sections on either side of the Atlantic – Zürich-based percussionist Heinz Geisser, who works with Swiss pianist Guerino Mazzola and New York bassist William Parker, who plays with literally everyone – that’s impossible. But the two longer of the three lengthy tracks here appear more like a trombone-piano dialogue than other entries by this quartet. MORE

May 2, 2005

MATTHEW SHIPP/WILLIAM PARKER/GUILLERMO E BROWN TRIO.

Plays Ware
Splasc(H) Records CDH 862.2

Who would have believed at this late date that underneath his blustery interior melodic and romantic impulses inhabit the soul of Free Jazz firebrand tenor saxophonist David S. Ware? His regular sidemen – to name three individuals.

This CD offers eight of the reedist’s original compositions interpreted by pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown. At its conclusion, without knowing the writer’s identity, you might link the intense pieces are some of pianist Herbie Nichols’ tougher lines or even unknown modernistic Duke Ellington compositions. MORE

March 28, 2005

FREEDOMLAND

Yia Yia’s Song
rent control records rcrcd 012

STEVE SWELL
Slammin’ the Infinite
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1175

Notes from New York’s Lower East Side underground, these two fine sessions show that the spirit of experimentation still shines brightly whether the sounds are called avant garde, the New Thing or Ecstatic Jazz.

What the nine improvisers are playing here is really noting less than intense modern music, but these sounds are often labeled unconventional since the neo-cons have perverted the idea of modern mainstream. MORE

March 28, 2005

EVAN PARKER TRIO & PETER BRÖTZMANN TRIO

The Bishop’s Move
VICTO cd 093

A extraordinary face off between veteran improv titans or as they prefer to say at the Victoriaville festival, un première mondiale, this meeting combines British saxophonist Evan Parker’s touring group with German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s Northern American band. More of a rapprochement than a battle royal, the 73½-minute session, recorded live at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in 2003 categorically accentuates the similarities rather than the differences between the two improv power trios. MORE

February 28, 2005

RAPHE MALIK QUARTET

Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club
Boxholder BXH 042

BRÖTZMANN CLARINET PROJECT
Berlin Djungle
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 246CD

Getting an understanding of the situation for committed free improvisers in Europe as opposed to the United States in the mid-1980s is pretty obvious when listening to these two live CDs, recorded about two months apart, both of which happen to have William Parker in the bass chair.

In early November 1984, German reedist Peter Brötzmann put together an international, all-star, 11-piece “Clarinet Project” for a special concert in a Berlin theatre as part of that city’s Jazzfest. Beside himself the clarinetists were Tony Coe from England, Louis Sclavis from France, East German Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and J. D. Parran and John Zorn from the U.S. But that’s not all. The ensemble also included Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, East German Johannes Bauer and Briton Alan Tomlinson on trombones, with British drummer Tony Oxley supplying the bottom along with Parker. By all accounts the one lengthy piece was welcomed by the audience. MORE

October 11, 2004

DAVE BURRELL’S FULL BLOWN TRIO

Expansion
High Two Recording HT001

BENNINK/CLARK/GLERUM
Home Safely
Favorite 01

Instrumental fashions come and go, but one of the most consistent jazz combo configurations is the piano trio. As long as the three sides of the triangle are properly balanced, despite its maturity, it’s still possible to create outstanding sessions. Both these CDs confirm the equation to a greater or lesser extent. Neither could be confused for the other however.

Put simply, EXPANSION is an event -- the first CD by pianist Dave Burrell for an American label since 1966 -- and a masterful addition to his slim catalogue. Not for nothing is the band called the Full-Blown Trio either. William Parker is on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums. MORE

September 20, 2004

MARCIN OLES

Ornette on Bass
Not Two MW 747-2

KLAUS JANEK
Caspar2
a|l|l| 008

PETER KOWALD/WILLIAM PARKER/PETER JACQUEMYN
Deep Music
Free elephant 003

Practically a seminar on solo and duo techniques of the double bass, the three CDs here show that there are multiple ways to showcase an instrument that in its basest (sic) definition is no more than a hunk of tempered wood strung with four long strands of wire.

Intriguingly enough, the three older players -- duets between the late German bassist Peter Kowald (1944-202) and American William Parker on one hand, and Kowald and German Peter Jacquemyn on the other -- stick to in-the-moment free expression, with mixed results. The youngsters, Poland’s Marcin Oles and Bolzano, Italy-born, Berlin resident Klaus Janek, follow more idiosyncratic paths. MORE

August 23, 2004

COSMOSAMATICS

Cosmosamatics Three
Boxholder BXH 041

MICHAEL MARCUS TRIO
Ithem
Ayler AYL006-CD

A versatile, but unappreciated multi-reedman, New York-based Michael Marcus proves that he can hold his own alongside Free Jazz legends on these CDs.

Not only that, but a comparison of the two discs -- one recorded in 1993 and the other in 2002 and 2003 -- shows a remarkable consistency in his approach to improvisations. THREE is probably the more challenging, since Marcus, who is part of Saxemble as well as leading his own groups, shares the front line of the Cosmosamatics with Sonny Simmons. MORE

August 9, 2004

WILLIAM PARKER/AD PEIJNENBURG

Brooklyn Calling
Dino CD 32004

PAUL DUNMALL/PAUL ROGERS
Awareness Response
Emanem 4101

Familiarity and novelty are the two strategies that can work equally well in improvised music. That’s why CDs with almost the same personnel can sound so different.

Consider the depth of penetrating understanding that goes into the duo session by two Englishmen, multi-reedman Paul Dunmall and bassist Paul Rogers, and contrast it with the interactive first-time meeting between American bassist William Parker and Dutch reedist Ad Peijnenburg. Similar on the surface, both discs define cooperative duo playing. But both arrive at that concordance differently. MORE

January 12, 2004

WILLIAM PARKER

Fractured Dimensions
FMP CD 122

COLLECTIVE 4TET
Synopsis
Leo LR 380

Change one man and you change the music, is an old -- and pre-feminist -- Free Music axiom. The converse is true as well, of course. Maintain a consistent combo line up and the sounds become that much more profound, since each player knows exactly what he can count on from the others.

Validating both sides of the equation are the quartets on these two CDs, each coincidentally featuring bassist William Parker. FRACTURED DIMENSIONS, whose title might reflect the recording circumstances, shows what happens when three members of a regularly constituted band -- Other Dimensions in Music (ODM) -- are forced by circumstance to play with someone else at the last minute. More than 78 minutes of music resulted from Alan Silva’s piano and synthesizer tones being grafted onto the sounds perfected by Parker, brassman Roy Campbell and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter in a Berlin concert in 1998 when ODM’s drummer was a no show. MORE

January 5, 2004

JIMMY LYONS

The Box Set
Ayler aylcd 036-040

Charlie Rouse with Thelonious Monk, Paul Desmond with Dave Brubeck and Harry Carney with Duke Ellington are three saxophone players who signed on for such long stays with the aggregations of well-known pianists, that their individual achievements were subsumed in the composer/keyboardists’ visions.

Unfortunately, alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons (1931-1986) is another example of this. Aide-de-camp to pianist Cecil Taylor from 1961 until shortly before his death from lung cancer, he like Rouse, Carney, and possibly Desmond, was so much part of the Taylor sound that he was consistently undervalued on his own. Worse, or better, depending on how the person viewed Taylor’s music, Lyons was also often described as merely a misplaced bopper whose steadying presence helped amplify some of the pianist’s more outside ideas. MORE

December 15, 2003

WILLIAM PARKER & THE LITTLE HUEY CREATIVE MUSIC ORCHESTRA

Spontaneous
Splasc (h) WS CDH 855

SATOKO FUJII ORCHESTRA-EAST
Before the Dawn
NATSAT MTCJ- 3010

Downtown, they say, is a state of mind. So is so-called downtown music, as these two live big band sessions demonstrate. With polychromatic ideas enlivening both groups, and with composers extending and distend the status quo, the points of congruence between SPONTANEOUS -- recorded in May 2002 at the epicentre of hip, Manhattan’s CBGB’s -- and BEFORE THE DAWN -- recorded 16 days later at a jazz festival in Hamamatsu, Japan -- are closer than you’d imagine. MORE

October 13, 2003

THOMAS BORGMANN/PETER BRÖTZMANN/WILLIAM PARKER/RASHIED BAKR

The Cooler Suite
GROB 539

Serendipitous accomplishment, this live quartet disc is one of those unplanned sessions that ends up being released when it’s discovered that the night’s work was better than anyone imagined.

Flushed with the go-for-broke excitement that characterizes the best Free Jazz, the CD is a cleaned up version of what was recorded over an a cheap ferro cassette of demos that German saxophonist Thomas Borgmann shoved into the mixing board one night in 1997. A DAT recorder wasn’t working. MORE

September 22, 2003

WILLIAM PARKER

Scrapbook
Thirsty Ear THI 57133.2

William Parker’s name may be above the title, but as the subtitle -- violin trio -- makes clear, the spectacular success of this CD rests in the bow and four strings of Billy Bang.

Legitimate successor to the mantle of Stuff Smith as jazz’s most original string soloist, New York-based Bang’s output has been inconsistent since he first came to prominence in the late 1970s with the String Trio of New York. But everything must have been in alignment on this date as Bang cuts loose on a half-dozen of Parker’s compositions, backed by the New York bassist and Chicago drummer Hamid Drake. MORE

July 7, 2003

BRÖTZMANN/PARKER/DRAKE

Never Too Late But Always Too Early
Eremite MTE 037/038

FRODE GJERSTAD TRIO WITH PETER BRÖTZMANN
Sharp Knives Cut Deeper
Splasc (h) CDH 850

More than 35 years after he roared onto the international Free Jazz scene, German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s playing still seems as ferocious as ever. This is a good thing. For unlike some of his contemporaries who have settled into a sort of middle-aged timidness, the tenor saxophonist still improvises with the same intensity and commitment at 60 as he did when he was 25. MORE

June 16, 2003

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Live from the Vision Festival
Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2

The next best thing to being there, this combination CD and DVD package offers a distillation of some of the outstanding performances from last year’s Vision Festival in New York’s Lower East Side. Lacking the name recognition of Newport, Montreux, or any other capitalist entity-associated international star festival, in its less than 10 year existence, Vision has still promulgated a unique artistic vision.

Built around the vision of bassist William Parker, it’s a place where pioneering avant gardists from the 1960s mix it up with younger players who are carrying on experimental ideals. It’s cross-cultural, national and international as well, with the musicians showcased on this session arriving from Germany, Korea, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Valencia, Calif., New Orleans… and Brooklyn, MORE

June 3, 2003

JAMEEL MOONDOC ALL-STARS

Live in Paris
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1151

JAMEEL MOONDOC TENTET Live at the Vision Festival
Ayler aylCD-047

One of the most recognizable members of New York’s third generation Free Jazz players from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, alto saxophonist Jameel Moondoc, along with associates like bassist William Parker and trumpeter Roy Campbell, was everywhere during that epoch, usually leading his own band.

Like other non-commercial players though, he seemed to vanish -- some said into architecture -- shortly afterwards. But he’s been front-and-centre and recording again since the mid-1990s. These two live CDs, made up of his composition and arrangements, show that he still surrounds himself with notable sidemen and plays firmly in the Free Jazz tradition. They also may offer hints for his hiatus. MORE

April 28, 2003

MATTHEW SHIPP

Equilibrium
Thirsty Ear THI57127.2

MATTHEW SHIPP
Antipop Consortium Vs. Matthew Shipp
Thirsty Ear THI57120.2

When SONGS, his CD of standards came out about a year ago, it seemed that Matthew Shipp had decided to become Anthony Braxton and record his own interpretation of many traditional jazz compositions and standards.

Those presumptions have certainly gone out the window on evidence of these two CDs. One links Shipp and company with the synths and programming of FLAM; the other finds him collaborating with hip-hoppers Antipop Consortium. Judging by his simple, rhythmic playing on these sessions, however, the pianist may now be aiming to be the next Ramsey Lewis. MORE

April 14, 2003

GARY LUCAS/JOZEF VAN WISSEM

Diplopia
BVHaast 0103

WILLIAM PARKER/JOE MORRIS/HAMID DRAKE Eloping With The Sun
RITI CD 007

String-driven, these CDs work with the idea of adapting traditional plucked instruments to new roles, new sounds and unusual additions. Thus, on one disc, the country bluesman’s favorite National steel guitar and the Renaissance minstrel’s lute are mixed with electronics and percussion for futuristic versions of 16th century airs. On the other, three free jazzers use instruments rescued from the stringband and world music ghettos to create some highly rhythmic improvised sounds. MORE

March 3, 2003

DAVID S. WARE

Freedom Suite
AUM Fidelity AUM 023

Performing and recording the music of another innovator is probably the most profound challenge a jazzman can face. Especially difficult is reinterpreting a piece that brings forth memories of the originator every time it’s played; and this predicament doubles when the piece involved is programmatic, rather than just one tune.

Through careful planning and -- to be honest -- luck, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and his quartet have avoided these pitfalls with their version of Sonny Rollins’ FREEDOM SUITE, originally done in 1958. For a start, unlike Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk -- to name three other jazz stars whose works are constantly being recast -- no one else has tried to take on Rollins’ masterwork. Additionally, although the piece itself presaged a group of equally important thematic Pan African and Black Nationalist compositions by Max Roach -- who also played on the disc -- Charles Mingus and Coltrane, the suite itself is mostly based on tone and dynamic variations, rather than definitive motifs. MORE

January 22, 2003

MANERI ENSEMBLE

Going To Church
AUM Fidelity AUM 024

MAT MANERI
Sustain
Thirsty Ear THI 57122.2

Substantial slices of Maneri music, these two new CDs prove that while violist Mat Manner has internalized the quirky cogitation and execution of his father, reedist Joe Maneri, he’s not adverse to testing out some ideas of his own in different contexts.

Father-son improvisers are nothing new on the jazz scene and have ranged from boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons and his funky tenor saxophonist son Gene Ammons to mainstream pianist Ellis Marsalis and his progeny. But few offspring are as inculcated in his father’s music, as Mat -- born in 1969 -- who began playing music with his father when he was only seven. It’s hardly necessary to point out that Joe -- born in 1927 -- was no mainstream Marsalis. A jobbing musician for years with an interest in ethnic, microtonal and 12-tone composition as well as jazz improvisation, his talent finally got him a gig teaching theory and composition at Boston’s New England Conservatory in 1970. But his single-mindedness left him unrecorded until his belated emergence in the mid-1990s. MORE

September 23, 2002

WILLIAM PARKER

WILLIAM PARKER … And William Danced
AYLER aylCD-044

JEMEEL MOONDOC
Live at Glenn Miller Café Vol. 1
AYLER aylCD-026

True, exceptional, improvised music depends on particular circumstances to be actualized. Mood, time, location and acquaintance are capable of altering the equation to such an extent that two sessions recorded hours apart can be vastly different.

That’s what happened with these two CDs, both of which feature bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake. LIVE was recorded one night at Stockholm’s Glenn Miller Café by the two, plus their regular playing partners, alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc. The result is a representative hour of high class, New York-based free improv sound. Earlier that day Parker and Drake, met and played for the first time with veteran Swedish alto saxophonist Anders Gahnold, who isn’t even that well known in his homeland. Touchingly, the ensuing studio-recorded 66 minutes, offers up a slice of free improv at its finest. MORE

July 27, 2002

CARTER/CORIO/STARK/BAILEY

Don’t Get Me Started
Rent Control Records rcrcd 005

FREEDOMLAND
Amusement Park
Rent Control Records rcrcd 006

Veteran followers of the Manhattan sub section the of free jazz scene may be surprised by the comparison of the music on these two discs -- or perhaps they won’t. For the exciting sounds of DON’T GET ME STARTED are as interesting and accomplished as those on FREEDOMLAND.

Yet the quintet represented on DON’T includes only one veteran free jazz master -- multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter. However included among the five musicians on AMUSEMENT are not only veterans Carter and composer/bassist William Parker, but also three others whose tenure in the Lower East Side jazz gestalt goes back to the early 1990s. MORE

June 7, 2002

PETER BRÖTZMANN TENTET PLUS TWO

Short Visit To Nowhere
Okka Disk OD 12043

PETER BRÖTZMANN TENTET PLUS TWO
Broken English
Okka Disk OD 12044

Three years after it was first organized and a year after it first toured, Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet (Plus Two in this case) displays, in these 2000 recordings, that it has become an exemplary example of how to adopt free improv to large aggregations.

With a mixed cast of seven Chicagoans, three members from New York state, a Swede and Brötzmann, a German, it has all the firepower of a traditional big band with its eight horns. Plus, the three-man string section and two percussionists ensure that not only is its bottom covered -- so to speak -- but that the strings can alternately meld with the horns or shore up the rhythm section. Also, while the German reedman wrote two of the compositions, he’s democratic enough to make room for one piece each by Chicago multi-woodwind player Ken Vandermark, Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson and Chicago cellist/violinist Fred Lonberg-Holm. MORE

May 10, 2002

ALAN SILVA/KIDD JORDAN/WILLIAM PARKER

Emancipation Suite #1
Boxholder 023

Dedicated to a Russian inventor/musician (Leon Theremin), an American theorist/composer (George Russell) and a Saturnian who combined these characteristics and many others (Sun Ra) this CD is a sprawling, nearly 57½ minute symphonic performance created by only three improvisers.

It can still be described as symphonic, however because Alan Silva, the American bass player, long-time European expatriate and Free Jazz pioneer, does his work on what he terms the orchestra synthesizer. That too is more than hyperbole as well. For in contrast to many other operatives -- especially in rock -- who employ Robert Moog’s invention for little more than beats and color, Silva takes full advantage of its polyphonic counterpoint. Not surprising for someone who worked with large scale visionaries like Ra and Cecil Taylor, he uses the instrument’s capacity for dynamics and sound separation to its utmost, conjuring up sets and subsets of percussion, horn and string sounds. MORE

March 29, 2002

PETER BRÖTZMANN & DIE LIKE A DOG QUARTET

Aoyama Crows
FMP CD 118

Bearing in mind that these four busy musicians have been playing together irregularly for a little less than a decade, they’ve coalesced into one of reedist Peter Brötzmann’s most accomplished units. That’s some achievement for a part time combo, considering that past Brötz bands have included some genre definers as saxophonists Frank Wright and Evan Parker, trombonist Paul Rutherford, bassist Peter Kowald and drummers Han Bennink and Louis Moholo.

Singly or together, rhythm section alchemists --- bassist William Parker, linchpin of a dozen bands in New York’s Lower East Side, and drummer Hamid Drake, Chicago’s most in-demand percussionist -- can apparently move any playing situation onto the gold standard. But the wild card here is Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, whose electronic treatments add an unusual found sound texture not found in the saxophonist’s other projects, not to mention being the first trumpeter with whom the saxophonist has had a long term relationship. MORE

March 1, 2002

MATTHEW SHIPP

Nu Bop
Thirsty Ear THI 57114.2

NU BOP certainly gives pianist Matthew Shipp the forum with which to explore his inner Herbie Hancock. The question is why?

No one is saying that Shipp -- who has had to put up with enough unwarranted Cecil Taylor comparisons during his career as a free jazzer -- has to stick to a certain style. He’s certainly shown his versatility with standard bass-and-drums trio projects, string-centred groups and work with saxophonists like Rob Brown, Roscoe Mitchell and David S. Ware. Plus the music on this disc is more than standard jazz-tinged electronica. MORE

February 8, 2002

THE MUSIC ENSEMBLE

The Music Ensemble
Roaratorio Roar 03

History, especially jazz history, is a set of shared anecdotes and popular assumptions usually organized years after the fact. This approach’s shortcomings are made clearest when conjecture is transformed into cant, as was demonstrated by Ken Burns’ JAZZ series. Musical history -- especially one as complex as improvised music -- can’t easily be reduced to a theory of great men and neat transitions. Pesky details on the margins mess up these neat concepts, just like an exceptional jazz solo plays with the criterion of a conventional melody. MORE

January 1, 2002

AUGUSTÍ FERNÁNDEZ/WILLIAM PARKER

2nd Set
Radical Records M PE 047

AUGUSTÍ FERNÁNDEZ/CHRISTOPH IRMER

Ebro Delta

Hybrid CD 18

Every day it seems, impressive improvising musicians are appearing in places most North Americans don’t associate with innovative sounds or even modern music. Appearing, of course is a relative term. In cases like this the “appearance” isn’t any more a description than our concept of Columbus “discovering” the New World, which had existed for many previous millennia. MORE

March 1, 2001

MATTHEW SHIPP

Nu Bop
Thirsty Ear THI 57114.2

NU BOP certainly gives pianist Matthew Shipp the forum with which to explore his inner Herbie Hancock. The question is why?

No one is saying that Shipp -- who has had to put up with enough unwarranted Cecil Taylor comparisons during his career as a free jazzer -- has to stick to a certain style. He’s certainly shown his versatility with standard bass-and-drums trio projects, string-centred groups and work with saxophonists like Rob Brown, Roscoe Mitchell and David S. Ware. Plus the music on this disc is more than standard jazz-tinged electronica. MORE

August 4, 2000

WILLIAM PARKER

Painter’s Spring
Thirsty Ear TH 57088.2

One penalty for musical eclecticism is that most listeners don’t realize how well a musician proficient on many instruments can play on each of his axes. The prime example of someone who suffered for his inventiveness was multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He probably would have been recognized as a major tenor saxophone stylist if he had stuck to that horn, instead of the three he blew in tandem. Another unjustly obscure stylist is Daniel Carter. Manhattanite Carter, who is an impressive link in the cooperatives Other

MORE

July 27, 2000

BILL COLE

Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble, Live 11/20/99
Boxholder BXH 008/009

Jazz's flirtation with non-Western music has been going on almost since Duke Ellington wrote his first "Jungle" composition. But serious convergence with these sounds really happened when composer/performers such as Yusef Lateef and Art Blakey got to visit Africa in the 1940s and 1950s. Since then whole strains of so-called "ethnic" musics -- including Arabic, Greek, Balkan and Yiddish -- have been added to the jazz continuum. But few musicians bring the same aesthetic and understanding of these different cultures' sounds as do the members of Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble.

MORE

June 17, 2000

PETER BRÖTZMANN

Stone/Water
Okka Disk OD 12032

Peter Brötzmann is no stranger to bombast.

The German multi-reedist first goose-stepped his way into world jazz consciousness in 1968 with MACHINE GUN on FMP. From its first extended blats of pure noise emanating from a (very) mixed platoon of Dutch, Flemish, British and German improvisers, it gave lusty notice that Continental jazzers had to be judged on their own merits rather than in comparison to North American musicians.

Over the years, except for the odd one/off project, economic necessity has forced Brötzmann to work with smaller bands -- usually trios and quartets and some commentators have even posited that the wildman has mellowed.

MORE