Friday, February 02, 2007

William Parker's Little Huey Big Band - For Percy Heath (Victo, 2006)

Are big bands making a comeback in progressive jazz? Along with Charles Tolliver's wonderful CD With Love, comes bassist William Parker's latest offering with his Little Huey Big Band, recorded live at the Victoriaville festival in Quebec. Parker's band is a who's who of the luminaries of the jazz avant garde, including Sabir Mateen on tenor saxophone, Roy Campbell on trumpet and Steve Swell on trombone. The four part suite bears little resemblance to the music that Percy Heath played during his lengthy career, but it's to Parker's credit that he takes Heath's advice to "Just keep playing your music" in creating a deeply respectful tribute. Although the ensemble plays together rather infrequently, the full band sections of the music are very tight and the entire band improvises with great skill and energy. Parker limits himself to one extended solo section, but nevertheless is the backbone of this performance with his very strong bass playing, he writes in the liner notes that Heath called him "iron fingers" and you can certainly hear why. This is an excellent and laudable album from the always dependable William Parker and it is highly recommended.

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