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While bassist/composer William Parker has already provided modern jazz fans with an abundance of proverbial cutting edge outings for various labels, this little gem was recorded between 1991-1993 and was originally scheduled for release in 1995. What we have here is a program consisting of Parker’s pairing with vocalist Ellen Christi, whereas pianist Yuko Fujiyama and vocalist Lisa Sokolov perform together on alternating tracks. Consequently, this effort casts a radiant spell to those willing to delve into a series of beautifully constructed pieces, dedicated to the recently departed vocalist, Jeanne Lee.
With works such as “Baldwin’s Interlude,” Ms. Sokolov and Ms. Fujiyama instill a sense of tempered urgency atop melodramatic overtones via whispery lyricism as the duo explores the unbounded possibilities and similar tonalities of the human voice and acoustic piano. Meanwhile, Parker’s nimble plucking of his bass strings and deft arco-bass work often provides a tender rhythmic forum for Ms. Christi’s probing yet altogether gleaming sensuality of expression. Essentially, this is a starkly beautiful recording, brimming with the artists’ counterbalancing motifs, circuitous paths, and unabated conveyance of good will; however, the objective is clear: Peace and love transcends all.
One of the many highlights to be found on this production is the final opus, “Band In The Sky.” Here, Ms. Sokolov intermingles glimmering scat style vocalise with verse framed upon many of our late jazz greats who have since left this earth to perhaps perform in that “band in the sky.” Hence, the vocalist and Ms. Fujiyama take the listener through a time capsule amid celebratory and at times, sublime passages in honor of those who have imparted a lasting impression on many of us. Simply stated, Song Cycle is a modern day masterpiece. (Strongly Recommended).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.