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

Dimensions In Music and Test — and who is the only hornman featured on this outstanding disc — definitely suffers from the Kirk syndrome. Accomplished on tenor and alto saxophones, clarinet, flute and trumpet, it’s Carter’s curse to be seen more as a general utility player than a fine soloist.

Consider what he does here, though. Holding his own against Parker, who is probably the single most forceful four-string player around today and drummer Drake, who could power a locomotive if he had to, Cater doesn’t use his many horns for decoration but judiciously employs them where they best fit.

“Flash”, for instance, which begins as a showcase for Drake’s snares and cymbals, soon, thanks to Carter, evolves into a duet as he propels the melody through the upper registered of his post New Thing alto saxophone. “Foundation #1” and “Foundation #2” are straight-ahead tenor saxophone blowouts, with Carter unleashing double time stops and multiphonics. That doesn’t scare the others however, though it does give the listener a glimpse of how the promised, but aborted, Sonny Rollins-Charles Mingus-Max Roach trio session may have sounded.

Virtuosity is showcased on “Come Sunday” — which doesn’t sound like the Duke Ellington classic it’s supposed to be — as the hornman’s vaporous flute tones are succeeded by another persona in the form of durable, lower register clarinet lines. PAINTER’S SPRING is another exceptional showcase for Parker, who wrote all the tunes but two here. Like Charles Mingus, he’s at home with any size ensemble, while his compositional talents are matched only by his playing skills. For an instance of that, here the transformation of the old hymn, “There is a Balm in Gilead”, into a resonant, one-person tour-de-force.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Foundation #1 2. Come Sunday 3. Blues for Percy 4. Flash 5. There is a Balm in Gilead 6. Foundation #4 7. Foundation #2 8. Trilog

Personnel: Daniel Carter (alto and tenor saxophones, flute, clarinet); Willam Parker (bass); Hamid Drake (drums)