William Parker: Song Cycle
This disc charts yet another region of his creativity housed in the songs he has written over the years. Each is scribed in homage to the artistic, intellectual and spiritual beacons that have guided his progress, both as a musician and human being, figures such as filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, historian Howard Zinn, kindred bassist Henry Grimes among others. Set to the music of his own bass and the equally tactile piano of Fujiyama his words of thanks are channeled through the radiant voices of Sokolov and Christi and achieve a welcome home. The two vocalists are quite different. Christi deals often in wordless vocalese and wide timbral enunciation ranging from husky to falsetto. Sokolov slips straight sung stanzas between fanciful improvisatory interludes. Both women possess a beauty of articulation and nuance that is stunning in its execution. Parker's strings sing as well, whether bowed or plucked weaving lines around Christi's vocal shapes and textures in shining rhythmic ribbons. 'Life Song,' for Thomas Merton, is awash in moody whispered verses and sparsely thrummed bass, while 'Baldwin's Interlude II' floats on a bright and tranquil meditation to an early silent mentor who came to Parker's aid through pages gleaned at a neighborhood library.
The lyricism of Parker's odes reveals a truth that has manifested routinely in his other improvisatory ensembles- his talent as a composer is substantial. The recordings themselves predate much of the work that resulted in his recent rise to prominence and as such illustrate that his refusal to be constrained by exterior expectation is something that has long informed his art. In a music that continually garners critique for wallowing in the accomplishments of its pioneers he routinely follows his own voice and this collection is no different. Different from what has come before, but drawn from the same core source that continues to find fresh routes of expression.
Track Listing: Footnote to a Dream/ Hunkpapa Song/ Baldwin?s Interlude/ Morning Moon/ For Julius Eastman/ Holiday for Flowers/ Life Song/ A Though for Silence/ Baldwin?s Interlude II/ Aborigine Song/ Cloud and Sea Fading as Rain Falls/ Invisible Pages/ Aborigine Song II/ Falling Shadows/ Band In the Sky.
Personnel: Ellen Christi- voice; William Parker- bass; Lisa Sokolov- voice; Yuko Fujiyama- piano. Recorded: October 10, 1991 and March 3, 1993.
Record Label: Boxholder Records
Style: Modern Jazz