For avant-garde musician William Parker, the outside can be very introspective. This prolific, giant bassist is quite the gentle soul, not an image his work with free jazz musicians such as Cecil Taylor, Peter Brotzmann, Charles Gayle, and David Ware would lead you to believe. With Painter’s Spring and his co-led recordings with Matthew Shipp and the band, Other Dimensions In Music, Parker reveals a lyricism and peacefulness not generally associated with the often-labeled barbarous music.
Painter’s Spring is the second release for Thirsty Ear, a non-jazz label like Chicago’s Thrill Jockey, just getting its feet wet in the jazz avant-garde. With A&R and production being handled by pianist Matthew Shipp, it’s curious to watch their approach to a somewhat new market for free jazz. Like Pastoral Composure, this disc tows an even keel on rhythm, harmony, and melody, meaning the music is as accessible as the latest recording by Joshua Redman. That’s not to say this isn’t a free jazz improvisation record. Parker and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter make up half of the quartet, Other Dimensions in Music. With the addition of percussionist Hamid Drake (Fred Anderson, DKV, Peter Brotzmann) the trio creates a post-Ornette, even Rahsaan Roland Kirk, statement of 21st century jazz. Much of the recording is rooted in blues, but the ‘out-ness’ of it is inner-directed. This is a band taking small steps toward a bigger musical freedom and they don’t intend to loose you, the listener, along the way. Parker covers the traditional “There Is A Balm In Gilead” with a haunting arco-bass solo and Ellington’s “Come Sunday.” They turn the energy up for “Flash” but never relinquish mastery of its outcome.
As a leader Parker’s jazz displays intelligence without being aloof or reserved and a passion for his music while maintaining dominion over it.
Track List:Foundation #1; Come Sunday; Blues For Percy; Flash; There Is A Balm In Gilead; Foundation #4; Foundation #2; Trilog.