Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bobby Zankel and the Wonderful Sound 6 - Celebrating William Parker at 65 (NotTwo, 2017)

This excellent album was recorded live in Philadelphia during January of 2017 with an all star band consisting of Bobby Zankel on alto saxophone, Muhammad Ali on drums, Dave Burrell on piano, Steve Swell on trombone, Diane Monroe on violin, and the dedicatee, William Parker, on bass. They create torrid, swaggering free jazz, smilier in scope and scale to the scalding music made by Albert Ayler's mid 1960's group with Michael Sampson. The group plays one four part suite entitled "Celebrating William Parker at 65" that makes for a tremendously exciting album, taking the humanistic and joyous swing of Parker's own music and conjuring up a wide range moods with powerful solos and very impressive ensemble playing. Parker is extraordinary throughout, blending his voice with the other musicians whether bowing or plucking the bass. The intensity of the music is heightened by the dramatic interplay of the musicians, with some brilliant solo spots emerging like the swooping and swaying violin and epic bowed bass features which are exchanged during the third part of the suite. Zankel is a very lively saxophonist, and his unfettered and emotional solos during parts one and four of the suite are highlights of the set. The music may be one continuous improvisation, but there is an overarching structure that builds a real sense of tension and develops through the malleable intensity of the rhythm section. It is the spontaneity of the music that is one of its most heart warming features because the musicians interact with each other individually and as a group whole in real time, creating music that is in constant motion, using gradations in volume and texture to explore all of the musical possibilities that this setting allows. The music flows like a deep and powerful river, filled with eddys and currents of melody and rhythm. The music has a deep seated spirituality, but not something that is dogmatic, rather a sense of inclusiveness that is a balm in these troubled times. Celebrating William Parker at 65 -

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