Bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake may be the most exciting team in jazz today. In recent years the two have worked together with a number of different leaders, including Fred Anderson and Peter Brotzmann, and in the process this duo has created trance inducing rhythms for concert goers and CD listeners alike. Many fans will thus no doubt be delighted to hear that Parker tapped Drake for his new trio recording Painter's Spring. That Daniel Carter 'the miscellaneous horn and reed player for the free jazz collectives Test and Other Dimensions in Music- rounds out this trio is likely to wet these same fans' appetites for a lengthy blow-out.
As it good as that could be, the trio actually delivers something quite different. All eight tracks found here come in at under nine and a half minutes and the trio fades out just as things appear to be picking up on more than one occasion. It is not that the three do not take time to explore their ideas but rather that don't explore the same ideas one right after another. On cuts like "Foundation #1" and "Flash," Carter appears as if he is about to unleash a sonic torrent from his saxophone but pulls back and then tracks end quickly. What Carter does do is convey a number of different emotions. His flute work on the cover of the Ellington song "Come Sunday" is abstract and hard to put a handle on while his saxophone's output is pure blues on the aptly titled "Blues for Percy." Drake does not get much time to play on his own or even in the spotlight but his continual pattern drumming and infectious rhythms are nonetheless quite impressive. The same is true for Parker. Although the bassist wrote all but two of the eight cuts, he generally stays in the background and plays sparingly. That said, Parker's solo reading of the traditional tune "There is a Balm in Gilead" is the highlight of Painter's Spring. His arco technique creates a big sound that sounds like it must be coming from more than one musician. And while this sound is fuzzy and contains a tad of dissonance, on the whole it is actually quite soothing.
The influence of producer Matthew Shipp is apparent even though the pianist does not appear on the disc. Painter's Spring is the second release in Thirsty Ear's Blue Series following Shipp's own Pastoral Composure. Both releases proclaim that avant-garde jazz is about musical exploration and not necessarily antagonistic sounds. If that message is a given for aficionados of this music, it is sometimes lost on many of those not already in the know. Hopefully Painter's Spring will help change that.
Track Listing: Foundation #1; Come Sunday; Blues for Percy; Flash; There is a Balm in Gilead; Foundation #4;
Foundation #3; Trilog.
Personnel: William Parker ? bass; Daniel Carter - alto and
tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Hamid Drake ? drums.