Friday, July 30, 2021

William Parker - Mayan Space Station (AUM Fidelity, 2021)

Much like his predecessor, Sun Ra, William Parker combines the past and the future not only in the title of this alluring album, where his bass and the drums of Gerald Cleaver meet the post-modern electric guitar of Ava Mendoza but in the wide ranging tracks themselves. This is an inspired grouping, and sounds like nothing like I have heard before in a Parker led group, and AUM Fidelity confirms that, stating that Mayan Space Station is Parker's first electric guitar trio album. Each of the musicians is capable of a wide range of sounds from the engine like motorik beat that Cleaver employs to stoke the fire of the lengthy title track “Mayan Space Station.” He’s met by Parker’s beautifully thick and earthy tone on bass and Mendoza’s startling guitar textures. She shows remarkable resolve, relentlessly creating in this crucible of trio improvisation over a nearly fifteen minute track. “Canyons of Light” allow the music to develop in other directions, with Parker creating inspiring sounds while Cleaver develops layers of percussion via deft and focused brushwork. Mendoza flies freely, aiding the collective improvisation, and also stretching out with some striking soloing. The closing track, “The Wall Tumbles Down,” shows Mendoza at her best, firing of cool sparks of electricity over a crisp drumbeat that threatens to become volatile at any moment. Parker’s huge slabs of bass are a physical presence, even as the music drifts into abstraction. Long elastic tones of bowed bass arc, along side unusual guitar sounds, becoming unsettling like a distant alarm leading to an unresolved and unnerving conclusion. This is cosmic jazz that is very successful and should appeal to a wide audience, as the compositions and improvisations are deeply felt and intense and the musicians are tight and in deeply tune with one another, showing great insight, understanding and creativity. Mayan Space Station -

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