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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

William Parker Quartets - Meditation/Resurrection (AUM Fidelity, 2017) ****

By David Menestres

William Parker’s new double album, Meditation/Resurrection, is a fine continuation of the path that Parker has walked for over forty years. If you’ve liked anything he has released under his own name in the last few decades, there’s no reason you won’t like this new set.

Both discs were recorded “on one fine October day” last year in Brooklyn and feature a core group recognizable to any fan: Parker on bass, Hamid Drake on drums, and Rob Brown on alto. The rhythmic foundation of Parker & Drake is unstoppable. As Parker says in the liner notes, Drake is “the foundation upon which trees and grass grow.” On the first disc, billed as the William Parker Quartet, these three are joined by the equally talented trumpeter Jalau-Kalvert Nelson. The second disc is credited to the long-running quartet In Order to Survive, with Parker, Drake, Brown, and Cooper-Moore on piano.

All compositions are by Parker and many feature deceptively simple melodies and rhythmic hooks that provide launching pads for creative solos. Parker’s composition style is so readily recognizable at this point. There’s a pretty clear historical lineage to Parker’s compositions, from Duke Ellington to William Parker (with a few other stops in-between). There is a deep earthiness to Parker’s compositions, providing a solid floor for the two quartets to dance upon.

I’m partial to the second disc, but it’s hard to not be when Cooper-Moore is playing. Parker’s arco solo at the beginning of “Sunrise in East Harlem” is beautiful, reminiscent of Charles Mingus’s bow work, especially on those live albums from 1964. The longest cut on the album is the vibrant “Things Falling Apart,” a frenetic thoroughfare of a tune. This is not to take away from what Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson brings to the first disc. A fine, endlessly creative trumpeter who shines beautifully in this setting.

The music is beautifully recorded and packaged, as is usual for the Aum Fidelity label, with liner notes by Parker. Meditation/Resurrection is a solid addition to Parker’s sprawling discography. Perhaps not essential, but very worth your time and money.


Not to be missed: William Parkers' In Order to Survive, with Hamid Drake, Rob Brown, and Cooper-Moore is performing at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn on July 13th and 14th. More info here.