Wednesday, July 05, 2017

William Parker Quartets - Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity, 2017)

The latest album from bassist and composer William Parker is a generous double disc set featuring music from The William Parker Quartet, and the Parker led band called In Order to Survive. The Quartet album, subtitled Meditation, features Hamid Drake on drums, Rob Brown on alto saxophone and Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson on trumpet and begins with the topical track "Criminals in the White House" which matches it's anger and scorn for politicians with a direct and melodic approach to modern jazz. Parker and Drake make for one of the most potent rhythm combinations in jazz, and longtime compatriot Rob Brown's acerbic saxophone and the stoic brass of the new member Nelson make for a very powerful performance that speaks truth to power. With two tracks dedicated to the legendary hard bop pianist Horace Silver, the band moves in a different direction, beginning with some joyful blues based swing in attendance on "Horace Silver Part 2" met a few tracks later by a thoughtful and pointed performance on "Horace Silver Part 1," with the musicians switching from their normal instruments into a more exotic setting, which fully demonstrates the versatility of the band. "Give Me Back My Drum" is the set closer and the longest track on this first album, allowing open space for Drake to masterfully demonstrating his incredible precision and vision on drums and percussion. The second disc on this collection, subtitled Resurrection, keeps the main group of Parker, Drake and Brown, but swaps out the trumpeter for Cooper-Moore, here solely focusing on piano and leaving his unique homemade instruments to the side. Cooper-Moore's piano is lush and bright, complementing his fellow musicians perfectly whether performing solos in open space or improvising with the rest of the band and making it sound larger than the some of its parts. The group creates five lengthy performances, filled with memorable themes and melodies which allow the musicians to use those as platforms for collective and individual improvised sections. The upbeat and soaring nature of the opening track, "Sunrise Over East Harlem," is a bright and all-encompassing  performance that makes the most of the setting and the compositional materials. "Some Lake Oliver" is a well deserved tribute to the great alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, and it is the perfect setting for Rob Brown to develop a well constructed solo using Lake's influence as an inspiration, and his fellow band mates frame the music perfectly. This is a very well executed collection of music, which is accessible for all jazz fans. The compositions and improvisations are fresh and the musicians are deeply in-tune with one another, creating small band modern jazz or profound grace. Meditation / Resurrection - amazon.com

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