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William Parker Quartet

Sound Unity (Aum Fidelity)

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The latest album by the William Parker Quartet, arguably N.Y.C.'s most dynamic jazz ensemble of the new century, presents a vision that is both adventurous and accessible.

With its distinguished front line of Rob Brown (alto sax) and Lewis Barnes (trumpet), Sound Unity carries on a melodic tradition that bounces with freestyle rhythmic energy, feinting here and there with oblique singsong phrases that are at once beautiful and unusual -- and sometimes even catchy, as on the sun-spirited "Hawaii." Underpinned by Parker's on-point bass lines and Hamid Drake's speaking-in-tongues drumming, tunes like the title track, "Wood Flute Song," and "Harlem" convey deep roots in the blues and Africa-rich grooves without resorting to clichés. The disc's most abstract piece, "Poem for June Jordan," communicates Parker's message of oneness, where tradition and forward motion thrive together in peace.

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