William Parker gets deserved acclaim for his abilities as a bassist and his activism and leadership in the avant jazz community but not as much for his composing. Drummer Jeff Cosgrove tries to correct that with this project that features Parker's music played by an organ trio with no bassist.
Cosgrove's partners in this venture are John Medeski on organ and Jeff Lederer on various reeds. Both are adept at covering the wide variety of gut-bucket grooves, spiritual cries and spatial abstractions in Parker's music. Tracks like "O Neal's Porch," "Moon" and "Harlem" handle the groove part with authority. Lederer howls on tenor on "Porch" and "Harlem," frolics on soprano on "Moon" and chirps on flute like Rahsaan Roland Kirk on "Little Bird" while Medeski shoots through swinging trickles and waves of organ. Meanwhile Cosgrove's supple drum work give light, well-placed accents to the rhythms.
Other pieces are more complex and intense. The wailing tenor and organ cries on "Corn Meal Dance" come on with the spiritual force of some of Larry Young's records. "Things Fall Apart" is an abstract collection of organ riffs, shrill soprano cries and percussive knocks. "Wood Flute Song" puts the focus on Cosgrove's melodic tumbling as it rolls alongside Lederer's wriggling clarinet and Medeski's flinty keyboard stumbles.
Only seven of the record's tracks are by Parker. The rest come from within the band. Cosgrove contributes the atmospheric "Ghost," an eerie blend of cymbals, moaning clarinet and faint organ hums. Lederer brings in "Gospel Flowers," a swinging waltz where heavy full-bodied tenor leads the way against Medeski's cool brooding, and "Purcell's Lament," with Lederer's soprano hypnotically serenading against an icy wash of organ.
Jeff Lederer excels on all his reeds, pouring out angelic fire or cocky soul as the composition dictates. John Medeski masterfully creates mysterious moods and deep soulful rhythms. Jeff Cosgrove nudges the music along with gentle riding of the beat and subtle use of brushes and cymbals. Together the three create an outstanding tribute to the many-faceted music of William Parker, capturing both its grit and its ethereal beauty.
O’Neal’s Porch; Corn Meal Dance; Gospel Flowers; Little Bird; Ghost; Moon; Things Fall Apart; Wood Flute Song; Purcell’s
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