March 30, 2007
William Parker & The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra
For Percy Heath
Victo cd 102
Masterful New York bassist William Parker liberally applies the vibrant colors available from the 14 members of his Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra to this composition saluting Percy Heath (1923-2005), the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ)s bass player. Recorded at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (Quebec), a month after Heaths death, parts of the interlocking four-part suite erupt so energetically and frenetically that the result is celebratory not mournful.
Alive with staccato interjections from individual soloists, undulating counterpoint from the brass and reed sections and frequent tutti crescendos, every tincture is captured in crystalline detail. Frequent tempo changes slip past without upsetting the painterly equilibrium. Although soloists arent named, among the highlights are raucous neo-gutbucket runs from one trombonist; a tenor saxophonists sluicing multiphonics; and an intermezzo of one trumpeters grace notes. Brief in his solo display, drummer Andrew Bakers shuffle beat drives the band without turning overwrought.
Besides subterranean blasts from Dave Hofstras tuba which provide thick oil-paint-like consistency to the portrait, the most prominent musical brush strokes are from Parkers bass. His solid intonation nudges the band in the proper directions whether its with brawny walking bass lines or precise bow movements which almost rappel down the strings.
A masterful sonic action painting of one bassist by another, the CD could puzzle long-time MJQ fans. Those who dont know Heaths powerful work elsewhere may be surprised that this energetic, polyphonic suite honors a member of the quartet known for understated presentation.
— Ken Waxman