William Parker

Volume 2: Summer Snow

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A William Parker/Hamid Drake live performance is an experience you will always remember. Their music also translates quite well to the CD format, and this recording, one of many they have done in the past decade, is no less vibrant. Parker plays upright bass on only two tracks; this is something he has been trending away from. "Anaya Dancing" is a short bass ostinato 12/8 modal workout with Drake on the drum kit, and the 11-and-a-half-minute "Konte" is in song form, starting in a rock & roll rhythm, morphing to a free improvised bridge with clattery bass and brushed drums, then concluding with a light jazz swing coda. Many other tracks feature Parker on the doson'ngoni, or hunter's guitar, brought into this style initially by Don Cherry. The instrument is an organ of absolute, sheer beauty, sounding like a muted kora, and is accompanied by either Drake's tabla or frame drums. "Sky" in 7/8 time is spacious and pristine, "Earth" in 5/4 naturally feels organic with the guitar a little rattle-ish and overtoned, while the highlight "Faces" shows a more animated Latin or tango-ish style. A lengthy "Pathos" has Parker on shakuhachi flute set up by a long tabla solo in a defined freneticism. There's meditational and ethereal music as well: "Edge of Everything," featuring bowed water bowls juxtaposed against small percussion, and the gong-informed spiritual "Sifting the Dust." The 40-second closer, "Hadra," has Parker playing the musette. The album works as a whole and should be listened to all the way through for maximum enjoyment. All of our natural and otherworldly elements are at the duo's command, whether they be ethnic music sources from Asia, Africa, greater Europe, the Middle East, or the heartland of the U.S.A. This is exactly what one should expect from these masters of creative improvised music, and is delivered in spades.

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