Label/Year: AUM Fidelity, 2017
Lineup – William Parker: bass; Rob Brown: alto saxophone; Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson: trumpet, kalimba; Cooper-Moore: piano; Hamid Drake: drums, percussion.
Exciting, fearless, and deeply resourceful avant-jazz bassist William Parker has been contributing to the enrichment of contemporary jazz in its most diverse forms for nearly four decades.
His followers have another reason to rejoice with the new double-disc album Meditation/Resurrection, released on his own label AUM Fidelity. The album encompasses two sessions, each of them featuring two different quartets that preserve the sax-bass-drums core.
Disc one comprises seven tunes played with his regular quartet whose members are Rob Brown on alto saxophone, the recently added Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson on trumpet (replacing Lewis Barnes), and Hamid Drake on drums and percussion.
The journey begins and ends with elated melodic themes over vigorous, free-flowing grooves. The kickoff is made with the politically charged, calypso-like “Criminals In The White House”, whose title couldn’t be clearer and the musical reciprocation, more robust and adhesive. The improvisations on this tune were held by Brown, a disciple of the inside/outside approach and adept of portentous exclamations, and Nelson, who opted for slightly more loquacious and vehement objections. The closing number, “Give Me Back My Drum”, also strikes with shifting rhythms and rhymes.
Sticking in the middle, we have the piece “Horace Silver” split into two parts – the first transforms abstraction into musical poetry, while the second starts with chimes, gongs, and other percussive embellishments, and spins with Brown’s meandering phraseology steeped in Eastern idioms. Nelson, who initiates this one by playing kalimba, later switches to trumpet, joining the saxophonist to form brief unison lines that evolve into catchy polyphonies.
The light-flowing bass grooves of the bandleader are the cool essence of “Handsome Lake” and “Rodney's Resurrection”, a pair of tunes that thrives with whether brisk, whether moderated improvisations, yet always articulated and motivic.
Disc two features five tracks by Parker put up by his acclaimed quartet In Order to Survive, with pianist Cooper-Moore instead of Nelson. It starts with a sublime spiritual hymn entitled “Sunrise In East Harlem”, whose perpetual vamp driven by the pianist’s silky voicings serves as a vehicle for Parker’s initial chromatic arco movements and Brown’s side-slipping devotional worships.
Ironically, shades of Oliver Lake can be found on “Some Lake Oliver” where Brown's digressions are efficiently backed by Cooper-Moore’s shifting trills and intricate textures, Parker’s bass freedom, and Drake’s combustible drumming.
Both the static “Urban Disruption” and the 18-minute collective ramble “Things Falling Apart” abound with serpentine melodic contortions and astute rhythmic ideas.
Regardless the tempo, languid or swingingly up, there’s always something to discover in Parker’s interesting tunes and immaculate groovy lines. His dedication to and innate passion for creative music is unflinching and an example and inspiration for every aspiring musician.
01 (CD1) – Criminals in the White House ► 01 (CD2) – Sunrise In East Harlem ► 04 (CD2) – Urban Disruption