Sunday, May 5, 2013

William Parker Quartet - Live In Wrotslove (ForTune, 2013) ***½

By Paolo Casertano

In the rankings (let’s say in the first twenty positions) of the concerts I’ve been attending in my life there is for sure the night, some years ago, when I had the honour and the luck to listen to a solo performance of William Parker in the Auditorium of Rome. It was during a really academic festival, full of prestigious names from the avant-garde Gotha. The audience, as usual in these kind of events, included a consistent number of bearded men with thick glasses and, in some cases, with a book on their knees waiting for the concert to start (you know, not even a minute of your precious time has to be stolen from the highest peaks of human knowledge).

After Parker had showed during an about one hour suite all the deep symbiosis he has with his instrument, the concert ended among delicate applauses and interesting sights (the one you try to show when you understand music, not just appreciate it). Parker should have noticed something for he reminded briefly that after all music and playing must have always something to do with enjoyment and amusement. Then he invited the audience to leave the concert hall while he was still playing in the background some really standard and pleasurable accompaniment phrases. Exactly as in a ballroom. Some of us followed the instruction and it was fun. Some others (guess who) stood still, gobsmacked and suspicious. Something is a concert or it is not and tertium non datur.

This album reminds me of that night. Information about it is hard to find on the Web if you don’t understand Polish (I had an intensive course just to write this review), but this almost 75 minutes long performance give us the chance to listen to the well-established Parker’s quartet featuring Hamid Drake on drums, Rob Brown on saxophone and Lewis Barnes on trumpet. It has been recorded in the Cultural Centre Agora of Wroclav during the 2012 Improvisation Festival. “Kalaparusha Dancing in the Edge of the Horizon” is the leading 47 minutes long composition and shows the smooth, classic and engaging interplay that these musicians can deploy. I like the often synchronic brass interaction, but my preferences go to the solo moments that we find in the second half of the track. First the astounding Parker solo after 25 minutes and then the long Drake’s exploit shortly after. Then again the extended duo between this more than legendary rhythmic session, using the brass just to remark some melodies once in while. Interchanging bowing and pizzicato is for Parker more or less the equivalent to breathing for conventional human beings. Audience can’t abstain from applauses.

The two shorter following episodes are enjoyable as well. “One for Horace” (I assume it is referred to Silver) starts really swinging and there’s more chances for the trumpet and the sax to climb scales and crank out catchy melodies. “Theme for Rondo Hatton” with its relentless and at the same time lazy bass line seems to arrive straight from another time. A time when you could have decided to dance during a jazz concert.

I understand that in the countless Parker’s discography maybe this will not be the one you remember, but it stays as a really pleasurable listening in any case.

My Polish course has not yet arrived to the “complete a web order” class but I assume the record can be purchased from the label.

1 comment:

Cagey-C said...

I had the good fortune of seeing Seraphic Light last night at The Stone. Just inside the door was a merch table with small stacks of perhaps twenty or twenty-five different titles on CD. Upon paying admission, each entrant was told, "William invites you to take a CD." Yes. In addition to the opportunity to watch William Parker, Daniel Carter, and Matthew Shipp play together for 75 minutes or so, $20 also allowed me to take home a CD from William Parker's personal inventory. I honestly had no idea how to choose just one out of all those on the table, so I chose nearly at random. This is what I brought home. What a choice! I think your description and review are right on target - though I probably would have given it a higher rating. These are stellar musicians who have developed a language for shared conversation between them. I couldn't be happier that this is what I brought home with me (though I also think it likely that any choice would have been the correct one).

One note on your review: The liner notes in my copy are in both Polish and English, so I was able to understand that "One for Horace" is not for Horace Silver. Rather, in William Parker's words, it "is a music to move the body, the mind and most of all the spirit. It is a music to unite, to awake the sleeping gian in all of us, dedicated to the late pianist, composer, mentor Horace Tapscott."

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