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William Parker: Everything Is Valid

By Published: March 7, 2005

"In New York you can present your music every night, but can you pay your rent? No. It's very difficult to get an audience every night in New York. You can go to Kansas, Minneapolis, Florida and find some space to present your music every night, but how many will come? Two, three, ten people? We don't know. It's very difficult to make a living in America. New York is giving the appearance of being the hip place, but how many musicians are making a living?

"Most musicians make a living in the last years by going to Europe and that continues. It's adaptation to the situation. In order to survive you must keep hope alive and part of keeping hope alive is being able to be thrown any where, in any situation, and adapt. When I first went to Europe in 1981 I found out Paul Lovens, Han Bennink, Peter Br'ötzmann, Enrico Rava, Tomasz Stanko, Johannes Bauer, Connie Bauer, Alexander von Schlippenbach, all these players... you have rapport with them. If I were in Europe I would work with Schlippenbach, like I'm working with Matthew Shipp.

"There's no improvement in the last years and can not be as long there's no improvement in the administration that runs the country. The temperament is that we don't value art, we don't value the artists. We value pop music. We value money, and pop music equals money.

"Persons like Norah Jones inadvertently may have destroyed the jazz aspect of Blue Note Records. Why have jazz when you can have Jones—who is a very nice person and tries to do what she's doing, is it pop jazz?—who sells so many millions. Why don't they buy Matthew Shipp in the millions? When you think about it, is it the music? The publicity? The mindset, in a sense that when you turn the radio in every city in America you hear Jones every five minutes, and you don't hear any Matthew Shipp, hardly, except in College radio. You can not hear in radio black music in its highest form. So we don't know if our music sells because it has never been offered to the people, to say do you like this music versus that, and until we'll get that opportunity no one can say our music does not sell."

The New CD: Luc's Lantern

"The idea was brought to me by Matthew Shipp, who asked if I would like to do a piano trio album. I don't know if he used the word traditional or not, but I said that I always wanted to do one in the classic sense of the way without repeating what I have already done. I wrote about fifteen pieces of music and we used ten on the CD. Shipp had mentioned Eri Yamamoto as a pianist, because we were mentioning more established players, but we said that that sound was already been out there. I never heard her play, but he arranged a rehearsal and I said, yes, this can work. So we rehearsed every week, and then Michael Thompson joined us for two rehearsals, and then we went to the studio.

"The idea behind all this thing is that there is no idea. When I do music sometimes I have no idea how it is going to sound until it's done. In Little Huey Creative Orchestra and a lot of these bands, I write a piece and bring it and it takes a whole totally piece for people to do, and it's the way it's suppose to be. I didn't know what it's going to be, and than it began and take on a life. I let it fall the way it should fall, and it fell into the category of very meditative. I wanted it to be meditative, poetic, to tell a story, when you are listening to it you are thinking things. There is music that you just play when you are sad or lonely that you put just one track and listen to it over and over again.

"Sometime I am listening to Pat Metheny, and people ask me why I'm listening to Pat Metheny. Because I like it. He's an excellent musician. He can play any kind of music he wants to play. He's very cinematic to me, very clear music, it's not very ambiguous, and sometime you need music like that, but at the same time there is a gentle movement, there is a lot of things going on in it. In Luc's Lantern the tracks are not long, but there is a lot of information in them you can miss by listening to the outside sound. I wanted to tell a story, that when you listen to it you are thinking of things. There is music that you just play when you're sad or lonely, that you put just one track and listen to it over and over again. You really need repeated listening to that music, It's quite different from most the records that I put out."

Future Plans

"For Thirsty Ear there is one project in the can. Matthew Shipp and I did a record with John Medeski on organ and Nasheet Waits on Drums. I am also doing a project with Beans from the Anti-Pop Consortium and Hamid Drake. We will record in June and it's coming out this year.

"The Quartet is going to release Sound Unity on Aum Fidelity in April or early May. It was recorded live in Canada.All new material. With Raining on the Moon (the Quartet featuring vocalist Leena Conquest) we got now enough material for two CD's, so I hope that it will also come out some time in the future.

"We did a recording of Inside the Song of Curtis Mayfield project two or three years ago in America. Small chorus, Leena Conquest and Amiri Baraka, Guillermo E. Brown on drums. It's in a process of being released, maybe in early 2006.

"I'm working on putting out a Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra box-set in 2006. I'm trying to find out funding to put that out. And I hope to record another Clarinet Trio record, this time using Alvin Fielder who replaces Perry Robinson. There might be a release of In Order To Survive last concert and it might be on Boxholder.

"On May 6 I'm doing the second Songs cycle, this time with Leena Conquest and Eri Yamamoto. In this tour there is a bass quartet with Henry Grimes, Sirone and Alan Silva and Charles Gayle plays the alto saxophone. We will try to get that released at some point."

Playing in Israel

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