Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Oliver Lake and William Parker - To Roy (Intakt, 2015)

The loss of the great trumpeter Roy Campbell was a tremendous shock to the progressive jazz scene. Alto saxophonist Oliver Lake and bassist William Parker play tribute to their fallen comrade with this duet album recorded in 2014 in Brooklyn. They begin the album with “Theme of Marvin Gaye” which has the sparse avant-grade sense of the material, but still flows with Parker’s sense of soulful pulse to gently drive the music forward. They really push the envelope on “Check” with Lake driving relentlessly forward with a torrid wave of notes and then being able to pirouette on a dime to allow his partner open space. “Is It Alright” has the two musicians collectively improvising in an excellent fashion, Lake with a raw and strident tone juxtaposed very well against Parker’s deep concrete foundation. On “Biscaglia” they both master very quiet sounds, haunting but respectful, with Lake’s short bursts of saxophone having a near trumpet like tone. Plaintive wails of saxophone and bowed bass on “Flight Plan” make for a freely expressive meeting of the minds. There is a wonderful duet section on “Victor Jara” where William Parker ups the speed and Oliver Lake dips into his Eric Dlophy bag and gives chase. They reach for the stars on “Bonu” with Lake angling his saxophone for more power and Parker digging deep in support and conversation.  “Net Down” is even more powerful with Parker’s sawing bowed bass and Lake’s high-pitched circular bellows of saxophone, making for a very exciting performance. The gospel “Light over Still Water Paints a Portrait of God” feature Parker’s expressive bowing bass developing a wonderful array of sounds to contrast the questing saxophone of Lake who at times approaches the music of spiritual seekers like Albert Ayler. The raw and declamatory “For Roy” ends the album with a proper send off, tough and tender it sums up the album and what they have learned from Campbell as a musician. Both Lake and Parker are in top form, putting their egos aside to remember their longtime friend and college. The music is at times somber and difficult but such was the music of the man they honor, who never shrunk form a challenge and left a powerful legacy. To Roy - amazon.com

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