Tuesday, January 25, 2005

William Parker's Tribute to Curtis Mayfield - Rome, Italy 4/6/04

This is a concert I downloaded from easytree with a band led by one of the hardest working men in the jazz business, William Parker. He works in many different contexts and this one is with the band with whom he recorded the excellent Thirsty Ear album Raining on the Moon a couple of years ago. The band is a group that mixes the spaciness and experimentalism of Sun Ra with old-school rhythm and blues. The most interesting aspect of the group is it's vocalist, Neena Conquest who sounds very much like Ra's old vocalist, June Tyson. The band locks into what may best be described as a "progressive R&B" groove with some advanced jazz mixed in. R&B - free jazz fusion!

One of the most amazing aspects of this recording was an epic performance of Mayfield's classic song "People Get Ready." Conquest's deeply felt and soulful vocals play off against a signifying male vocalist as the song stretches out into a deep soul groove with interjections of free improvisation. While the vocals get more impassioned, the music gets more propulsive until it finally breaks the moorings of the R&B structure to lift off into an estatic free improvisation. It's an inspiring performance, let's hope the band goes into the studio soon so everyone can hear how great it is.

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