William Parker – “Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012”

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Tag: Heavy, Five Stars

Release date: 12 November 2013

William Parker is a jazz bassist, composer, and bandleader whose career spans over four decades. Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012 is an eight disc compilation of live recordings performed by several incarnations of Parker’s band and works commissioned for festivals or ensembles. Parker himself plays the double reed, clarinet, Spanish gralla, and the Japanese shakuhachi, in addition to bass in arco. His compositions reflect an eclectic range of jazz styles, mostly incorporating hard bop and avant-garde jazz with some modal influence. Some tracks are from previous album sets and others are new movements, but this is not a cop-out to pad disc length: Parker’s band seamlessly flows through improvised phrases along the backbone of each arrangement, so even repeats of “Wood Flute” and “Malachi’s Mode” are fresh and invigorating. Hamid Drake’s drums are visceral and wonderfully virtuosic; he is an active force rather than a mere timekeeper. Most tracks end with parker introducing the next set: his congeniality toward the audience is contagious. Each disc explores a new facet of jazz; Parker frequently pushes his own boundaries in beautiful ways. There are some amazing guest collaborations by violinist Billy Bang, alto saxophonist James Spaulding, and pianist Eri Yamamoto. Jazz lovers and newcomers alike will enjoy this box set. Check out the 24-page liner notes!

Recommend CDs 4- 7 for morning shows. Play all CDs for jazz shows. Released through AUM Fidelity.

Note: due to space limitations on the CD format, some songs are on different discs than the rest of the set. Pay attention when announcing so you don’t say the wrong set.

Have fun! It’s 9.4 hours long in total (seriously), and worth every second. Sit back, relax, and snap your fingers. As always, cuts are in bold. Each track is accompanied by a brief description. I’ve selected certain phrases out of the longer tracks that reflect the strongest parts of the respective piece. These may be found at the end of the track description.

RIYL: Kind of Blue, ‘Round Midnight, and Milestones by Miles Davis; Ascension by John Coltrane; The Giuseppi Logan Quartet by Giuseppi Logan, and neoclassical influence in jazz music

CD1:
1. Tears of the Children of Rwanda – (25:12)
[visceral avant-garde/neoclassical reflection on the horrors of the Rwandan Genocide]
2. Petit Ouiseau – (15:01) [sax/trumpet call-and-response]
3. Groove #7  – (14:19) [hard-bop groove with hard percussion and a fusion-influenced heavy snare-based end; (10:15-14:19)]
4. Hopi Spirits – (14:44) [avant-garde sax solo with percussion reminiscent of Elvin Jones, modal jazz/trumpet duet outro]

CD2:
1. Wood Flute Song – (21:24) [walking bass against hard-bop sax with trumpet; just bass/drums at halfway; (0:00-4:34)]
2. Alphaville/Daughter’s Joy/The Golden Bell – (42:37) [absolute suite of virtuosic jazz; favorite section is (11:08-17:53); also a free jazz-inspired double reeds solo at (27:30-35:16)]
3. Malachi’s Mode – (11:47) [hard bop with third stream influences, standout percussion/bass duet]

CD3:
1. Groove #7 – (11:14)
 [dramatic, almost cinematic hard bop with lots of start/stops]
2. Hawaii – (9:32) [walking bass that descends into chaos, with sax/trumpet]
3. Broken Roofs/Green Paper – (12:57) [upright bass solo in arco (0:00-9:11) joined by trumpet (9:11-12:57)]
4. Hamid’s Groove/Daughter’s Joy – (21:17) [more hard-bop (9:45-14:08), rolling drum solo (14:30-21:17)]
5. Malachi’s Mode – (7:00) [hard bop with fiercely paced drumming]
6. Corn Meal Dance – (2:51) [brief redux on parker standard]
7. Corn Meal Dance [from Yoshi’s set on CD1] – (8:49) [begins at (2:08), chill modal jazz]

CD4:
1. O’Neal’s Porch – (9:52) [showtune-esque modal jazz with walking bass; the CD5 version is stronger]
2. Red Desert – (9:15) [duet between drums and Parker’s gralla]
3. Ojibway Song – (14:31) [Charles Mingus-esque bass line for solos (0:00-3:50) that devolves into free jazz chaos (3:50-7:30), evolving back into the bass (7:30-14:30)]
4. Sunrise in the Tone World – (6:25) [absolutely beautiful sax weaving through bass lines with fusion-influenced drumming]
5. The Square Son – (7:12) [bowed bass guitar solo]
6. Etchings – (9:39) [rolling avant-garde drum solo followed by Parker’s shakuhachi playing]
7. Ascent of the Big Spirit – (8:38) [modal jazz that cycles through sax and trumpet duets at double- and half-time (fade out at 7:00)]
8. Moon [from Yoshi’s set on CD2] – (8:58) [Miles Davis-esque head-nodding, finger-snapping showtune-esque modal jazz]

CD5:
1. O’Neal’s Porch – (13:42) [expanded form of the tune on CD5; whirlwind modal jazz/hard bop with walking bass and a showtunes feel]
2. Daughter’s Joy – (11:35) [ideal copy of the song; avant-garde jazz in major keys, rapid tempo changes, and earthy bass line/drums
3. Gilmore’s Hat – (7:14) [blues-tinged trumpet and alto sax lines that erupts in an explosive climax against violin]
4. Deep Flower/Ascent of the Big Spirit – (17:11) [avant-garde jazz with a variety of movements; spectacular violin solo by Billy Bang leads into drum solo (5:39-10:40)]
5. Wood Flute Song – (6:10) [fast-paced avant-garde jazz with confluence of instruments playing discreet solos]
6. Chicago [from AMR set on CD6] – (6:10) [Parker on double reeds with bass/drum backing; ensemble joins at about (3:20)]

CD6:
1. Psalm for Billy Bang – (5:58) [dedicated to Billy Bang, who was fighting lung cancer at the time of writing and passed away five days after the concert; he was a Vietnam veteran, jazz violinist, and collaborator with Parker]
2. All I Want – (2:40) [one of Parker’s few arrangements in straight vocal jazz; has a cool vibe]
3. Earth in Pain – (19:03) [dynamic, extremely evocative avant-garde jazz with yells and croons by vocalist Erine Odoom; the instruments sound like the cries of the Earth herself]
4. Deep Flower – (22:46) [spoken word poetry seamlessly interwoven with brass solos and rhythm; of note is Maurice Magnoni’s soprano sax]
5. Wood Flute Song – (18:55) [Ernie Odoom’s voice takes on the same instrumental role as brass in previous recordings; ideal recording of song]

CD7:
1. 3 + 3 = Jackie McLean – (13:33) [beautiful piano jazz leading into brass with interspersed vocals]
2. My Name Is Peace – (13:40) [Coltrane-esque avant-garde jazz with sung poetry (9:09-13:38)]
3. Late Man of this Planet – (9:01) [booming brass, third-wave influence]
4. For Abbey Lincoln – (16:05) [gradually builds tension and then releases; blues lyricism]
5. Boom Boom Bang Bang – (14:38) [stark anti-war proclamation (0:00-7:23)]
6. Sweet Breeze – (5:05) [slow piano/vocals ballad showing of Eri Yamamoto’s piano work]

CD8:
1. Aquixo Waiting at Dark – (9:01) [extremely chaotic avant-garde, much focus on arpeggio]
2. Falling Promise – (9:30) [free jazz with a very heavy brass section]
3. Slipping into the Light – (6:40) [free piano jazz]
4. Shadows Arms Waving – (15:06) [three movements; free jazz bowed bass -> percussion takeover -> avant-garde trumpet/sax tradeoff with piano backing]
5. Theme for Rondo Hattan – (16:50) [hard bop piano jazz descends into avant-garde]
6. Prayer-Improv [Bonus Track: from Corn Meal Dance sessions, 2007] – (5:53) [amazing improv free jazz with soulful vocals playing against a piano melody]
7. Great Spirit [Bonus Track: from Corn Meal Dance sessions, 2007] – (6:44) [oh my goodness amazing vocal jazz with piano and brass backing]

External links:

http://www.aumfidelity.com/aum080.html
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=45675#.UqFBlsRDuuw
http://www.dustygroove.com/item/672525
http://www.othermusic.com/products/william-parker-wood-flute-songs-8cd-box-set

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