Sunday, July 29, 2012

William Parker - Centering. Unreleased Early Recordings 1976-1987 (NoBusiness, 2012)

Centering is bassist William Parker’s own label an ongoing concern from the 1970’s until today. When times were tight and Parker wasn’t able to release his music on LP, he stored it with the hopes of future release. The Lithuanian record label NoBusiness has done several excellent archival projects in addition to recording new cutting edge music, and they have prepared an wonderful package of Parker’s previously unreleased music dating from 1976-1987. This is a beautifully done package with six compact discs and an excellent booklet with essays and photographs. The breadth of Parker’s music during this period is fascinating, ranging from working in duets with Daniel Carter to large ensemble performances that included singers and dancers as well. Parker is extraordinary throughout, composing and arranging works for diverse ensembles and musicians and blending voices and playing superbly whether bowing or plucking the bass. Disc one features Parker in a duo with saxophonist and trumpeter Daniel Carter with two long and compelling improvisations. Disc two has a fantastic trio of David S. Ware on tenor saxophone, William Parker on bass and Denis Charles drums. Parker’s wife Patricia Nicholson was also dancing during this session, so it would have been fascinating to see how she and the band would have interacted with one another. Disc three continues that session before splitting off into a couple of fascinating duet performances between Parker and free jazz saxophonist Charles Gayle. The remainder of the disc is scored for voices with three short performances. Discs four and five develop larger ensembles beginning with the septet The Big Moon Ensemble and then The Centering Big Band which really demonstrate Parker’s ability to arrange and conduct a large group of musicians from the bass. The performances are open ended, but the musicians keep things from becoming anarchy and instead keep the music powerful and full of grace. Finally, disc six concludes with three extended performances from the Centering Dance Music Ensemble which integrates both voice and dance into a fascinating sextet with two trumpets and two violins. Listening to this fascinating boxed set, it is easy to see how the music presented here laid the foundation for the work that Parker has done over the last few decades. Centering - NoBusiness

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