New York bassist/composer/poet and bandleader William Parker stands tall among the crème de la crème of great musical minds and instrumentalists. Corn Meal Dance
, featuring his group Raining On The Moon, further instills a mystical framework that seems to yield notions of a sense of oneness, regardless of ensemble size or musical direction. These qualities ring loud and clear on this downright beautiful jazz recording, designed with lyrical content that touches upon existentialism, spirituality and sociopolitical musings.
Vocalist Leena Conquest's jazz-blues delivery is heightened by a soul-stirring edge that occasionally sparks remembrances of a 1970s style hip-ness akin to pianist Horace Silver's post-Blue Note Records era. On this endeavor, the sextet merges lush melodies with propulsive swing and bop themes amid a few free-style meltdowns.
Trumpeter Lewis Barnes and alto saxophonist Rob Brown belt out more than just a few brash and soaring solo spots. The band is apt to flex its might, primarily implemented as a mechanism to drive home a point or two. Otherwise, Parker's fluid and prominently generated mode of operations imparts a buoyant element to the grand schema. On "Soledad, the rhythm section renders a snappy medium-tempo swing vamp that is diverted by Brown's rapid sax attack and pianist Eri Yamamoto's frenetic phrasings. Here, and on other works, the musicians communicate imagery that reaffirms the lyrical content. It's as if they take charge of matters, owing to the given nature or inherent attributes of a particular song or motif. But they tone it down a few notches on the gospel inflected piano-vocal duet "Prayer.
Hopefully this gem won't go unnoticed. Once again, Parker champions that rather open-ended and objective component, known as art imitating life. Hence, it's a rather persuasive critical commentary manifested through the power of music.
Personnel: William Parker: bass; Rob Brown: alto saxophone; Lewis Barnes: trumpet; Eri Yamamoto: piano; Leena Conquest: voice; Hamid Drake: drums.