A Fireside Chat with William Parker
WP: When I got the bass, it was a regular colored bass. I stripped the bass and I refinished it in a green color, an olive green finish and I called it Olive Oil.
FJ: Tell me about the Raining on the Moon project.
WP: I guess since the Seventies, I have always written music and written words with the music. It wasn't until the Nineties that I began to really do CDs and recording the music that I have been working on. The Raining on the Moon project came out of an extension of a record I put out called O'Neal's Porch, which was a quartet record that did very well. It was an independent record produced on Centering. It is the same O'Neal's Porch quartet plus the vocalist Leena Conquest. I have written all of the material and the lyrics. It's sort of a different sound. It has folk elements. It's an album where the rhythmical aspects and melodic aspects are separated from the color spectrum of sound. It is not as dense. It is more accessible to people.
FJ: And the latest project with your Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, Raincoat in the River?
WP: That was taken from a concert we did. We did two nights, one in Amherst and one in Boston, Massachusetts. We tapped into some different areas. The idea for the piece comes from two sources. One, it is dedicated to saxophonist Marvin Nunez, who was a saxophonist, who always dealt in sub-tone music, music that was very soft and very quiet when he played. You could hardly hear what he was doing when he played. There was that idea, in exploring sub-tones, which I use a shakuhachi and a cello. And then the other part of it was the childhood idea of guns into trumpets. When I was a child, we would get these Mattel guns for Christmas, but me and my brother would always turn the guns around and blow into them like they were trumpets. We would always play jam sessions. We would never play cowboys and Indians. Those are the two parts that this comes from and there is also a part dedicated to Marion Brown, who lives in a senior citizen's home, up in the Bronx. I visit Marion from time to time. He is actually another person that would be nice to get back on the music scene.
FJ: Age, physical or financial ailments, musicians never retire.
WP: Oh, yeah, I think everybody that is involved with something they love in life, they don't ever want to stop doing it. Retirement really equals death when you are a musician. You really want to play until you can't play anymore or be creative in some kind of way. If you can't physically play, you write. You do something involved in music because that is what you have done all your life.
FJ: And lastly, your recording with Joe Morris and Hamid Drake, Eloping with the Sun .
WP: I have been playing this instrument called the zintir. It is a bass from Morocco. I have been playing that the last three or four years. There is actually a track on Raincoat in the River that wasn't released. Maybe that will be released later. Joe was dealing with the banjo and Hamid is a very, very good frame drum player. I had played duets with Joe and duets with Hamid, so we just sort of just blended this concept together and recorded that music that afternoon. That project has great potential to grow into something much bigger than what we just released. Its growth potential is great.
FJ: Is the Vision Festival still without corporate funding?
WP: Yes, it is definitely without corporate funding. Until you can find a corporation that doesn't want to control the festival because corporations tend to want to change the Vision Festival into the Texaco Festival or the Heineken Festival or the Verizon Festival. That just changes the whole nature of what you are trying to do. If you are going to get corporate money, you want clean money, if that is possible. You also want money that doesn't change the nature of the festival. It is not about advertising.
FJ: What is your outlook for the festival?
WP: My wife, Patricia, really started the festival. The festival was started as an outgrowth of the Improvisers Collective, which was a group of improvisers, dancers, and poets who would get together and we would do concerts every week. One thing about the Vision Festival is that it is multimedia. It has dance. It has music. It has poetry, which is a little different than most jazz festivals. It has a theme. Every year, it has a political theme or an idea about a vision, how you would like the see the world change. It opens every year with an invocation by Joseph Jarman, who is a Buddhist monk.
FJ: I am a selfish man and want to see something like that on the left coast.