Music » CD Reviews

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra

Mayor of Punkville (Aum)

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For years, William Parker has been an important free jazz bassist and leader. He's recorded with a variety of musicians and can be counted on for consistently inspired performances. The ensembles Parker employs on this two-CD set vary from selection to selection, but they are larger than the normal free jazz quartets and quintets, containing various combinations of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, piano, bass, tuba, and drums. Parker has written charts for this group, but he doesn't require that the musicians stick strictly to them. They have the choice of departing as individuals or sections, and in some cases, Parker has provided them with the options they may choose. As a result, the members of the band are ever mindful of working together and, although they often play loudly, dissonantly, and passionately, avoid self-indulgence.

On the whole, the voicings here are original and sometimes beautiful. "I Can't Believe I'm Here," a song which, like the title track, is about 30 minutes long, is enthralling. The discipline and dedication of band members has to be of the highest order to perform songs of such quality, and the intensity and kaleidoscopic changing tones and textures bear some resemblance to Sun Ra's work. The soloists -- trumpeters Richard Rodriguez, Lewis Barnes, and Roy Campbell; trombonists Steve Swell, Alex Lodico, and Masahiko Kono; and reedmen Chris Jones, Rob Brown, Charlie Waters, and Darryl Foster -- are also impressive, as they make individual statements while managing to integrate their spots lucidly into the overall fabric of the pieces. Parker, bassist-tuba player Dave Hofstra, and drummer Andrew Barker drive the band powerfully but not intrusively, making Mayor of Punkville among the most significant large ensemble jazz records of the past 10 years.

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