Bass Fiddles and Nu Bop:
A Consumer Guide to William Parker, Matthew Shipp, et al.

by Tom Hull

This little project got its embryonic start in the fall of 2002, when I picked up Nu Bop. It wasn't my first encounter with Matthew Shipp, but it had a credit that seemed a bit out of the ordinary: "FLAM: Synths & Programming." I had seen a minor trend emerge with jazzers working around synth beats: for example, Nils Petter Molvaer had done a couple of albums extending the Miles Davis-Jon Hassell line. But this sounded different: it sounded like the future of fusion.

Now, as far as most jazz fans are concerned, "fusion" is a dirty word. The Marsalis clique regards it as a sell out. The avant-gardists think it's a cop-out. And the young-and-not-so-young fogeys can't even imagine how parts so contorted could ever work. This is perhaps the only thing all jazz fans of all three stripes agree on, but that in turn may be part of the reason why jazz doesn't even manage to sell as many units as Christmas music. But looked at from vantage points outside the jazz ghetto, fusion offers the prospect of a bridge between cultures, an open channel of communication. When Miles Davis, on 1969's Bitches Brew, started to riff over funk beats that weren't all that far removed from James Brown and Sly Stone, he didn't just cross over to the funk crowd, he earned a fair listen. Ornette Coleman made a similar move in the late 1970s, reframing his characteristic blues-into-chaos-into-beauty with electric guitar and bass. There have been a few other prime examples -- David Murray's Shakill's Warrior (1991) comes to mind -- but there haven't been many. I have a theory about these particular records, as opposed to those of their followers, which is that these artists, having been inspired and energized by music outside the realm of jazz, aimed not to dabble in the foreign music but to extend their own distinctive music to incorporate what they found most exciting about it -- which also helped to make their own music more comprehensible to the other, broader audience. Just for a counterexample, let's face it, nobody who loves Stevie Wonder needs to listen to something as merely derivative as George Benson's Breezin'. But people who dug Sly and JB could not only dig Miles, they could dig that he added something to the equation.

And this is what I see Shipp as doing. Up until 2-3 years ago he was the very model of an avant-garde jazz pianist: well schooled, serious, intellectual, artistically ambitious, with a long resume of difficult records that didn't sell squat. But he had played in rock bands as a teenager, picked up much of punk's attitude, and kept a connection to hip-hop and DJ culture. So when Shipp got a job directing a line of jazz releases for a gnarled underground rock label -- how else would you describe Thirsty Ear, where Throbbing Gristle and Robert Wyatt are big names? -- all these threads quickly came together. First, it changed the way the records are put together: most jazz, especially avant, is cut live to preserve the spontaneity of the moment, whereas rock and hip-hop and electronica are pieced together. Second, it gave him an outlet to a tiny slice of a big market, instead of avant's usual tiny slice of a tiny market. But the interesting thing about the market shift is that the only real difference between avant-jazz and avant-rock-or-whatever is that the latter wants a beat -- noise is no problem, just as long as there's a beat. And Shipp's always had a beat -- didn't always use it, but his thick, percussive chords have long been his signature. So he didn't really have to change much to connect to the bigger audience -- he just had to bring in a DJ to fuse his own percussion with the beats and blips from the world of electronica. Of course, this isn't likely to make a big splash on SoundScan, but when Rolling Stone decided to publish a new revision of their Record Guide, they only had two jazz artists on their list to cover who emerged in the '90s: James Carter and Matthew Shipp. I wound up writing both pieces, which gave me a chance to dig much deeper into Shipp's work.

You don't have to listen to Shipp much before you start to focus in on William Parker, who plays bass on 39 of the 54 records in Shipp's discography. But Parker's own discography has almost four times as many records (214) -- sure, bass players get around, and Parker's older (eight years), but the bottom line is that Parker is a legend, easily the most sought-after bassist in his part of the universe. The bass is usually the hardest instrument to follow, especially on record, where the engineering usually tunes in to highlight the frontline instruments. To follow the bass takes concentration -- kind of like watching football and focusing on the line play, while the camera would rather follow the ball. But bass players are much more multidimensional than linemen: mostly they set the rhythm and/or add harmonic depth, but especially in free jazz they can wander off on their own melodic paths, and they add to the sonic pallette -- a range of sounds from beautiful to plug ugly, sometimes descending into what might as well be called stupid bass tricks. In jazz the bass is usually plucked, but when it is bowed it suggests other idioms -- the classical string quartet, or what Parker likes to call the "bass fiddle."

Bass players rarely become famous just for their bassmanship: they have to get top billing on albums, by leading groups and composing. Charles Mingus was a helluva bass player, but the big difference between Mingus and, say, Leroy Vinnegar, was that Mingus was one of the most important composers and band leaders in history. Vinnegar was a helluva bass player too, but with only five albums under his own name, vs. 200+ that he played on, he's relatively unknown. Parker finished #4 in this year's Downbeat Critics Poll, trailing Dave Holland, Christian McBride, and Charlie Haden. All three, unlike Parker, record for major labels. McBride is one of the brightest mainstream players to have emerged in the '90s, a type that fares exceptionally well in that poll. He is irrelevant to this discussion, but Holland and Haden are older players who have had careers roughly comparable to Parker: they have legendary avant-garde roots, vast discographies, and solid (but well short of Mingus) composition credits. Parker also got votes in the Rising Star Bass category, which I think reflects the fact that while Parker has composed and led groups as far back as the mid-'70s, over half of the 20+ albums that he has headlined have appeared since 1998. But it also reflects the fact that Parker's music has lately been growing in ways that make it much more accessible and enjoyable for critics and ordinary people who are not confirmed residents of the free jazz (or as they prefer to call it, creative music) ghetto. Which is no doubt a big part of the reason why Parker and Shipp have been so synergetic.

What follows here are sixty or so capsule reviews of records with Parker and/or Shipp, plus a few records in Shipp's "Blue Series" that neither actually plays on. These come from a candidate list of 250+ albums, of which I've heard 85. You can take that as a cup half-full or half-empty -- the likelihood that I've missed music of comparable quality is near certain, but I've tried to track down most of the albums that other critics regard as most essential, and I certainly have more than any non-expert needs to get started. Some disclaimer, or at least qualification, is called for: I started this snark hunt looking for fusion, but 80% of what follows is avant-jazz. I don't regard myself as an expert in, or devotee of, this kind of music. I've always regarded myself as a rock critic -- as someone who grew up on Lester Bangs and Paul Williams, mediated with an overdose of Robert Christgau's encyclopedism. So I like things that are popular, I like dance music, I like background music, most of all I like things with a good beat. But I'm also impressed by brains and chops, I don't mind a little noise, and I don't need words, so I've been cutting my rock and roll with jazz for a long time. People who live and breathe creative music will no doubt find stuff below to take exception to, but I didn't write this for them. I wrote this for people like me, who want to explore and perchance find something new and wonderful. And there's plenty of that here.

Frank Lowe: Black Beings (1973, ESP Disk). This was Parker's first recording, but he is nearly invisible behind the two screeching saxophones, with Lowe's tenor dominating the long intro thrash, and Joseph Jarman's alto evening things out on the closer: two taut horn lines in continuous opposition, strident, almost comically so. Nasty. But don't think there's ever been an avant saxophonist that Parker wouldn't get into the ring with. B-

William Parker: Through Acceptance of the Mystery Peace (1974-79 [2003], Eremite). These five early pieces, recorded with five different groups on five different dates, make for a good introduction to where Parker comes from and how he got his shit together. The title comes from a poem by Kenneth Patchen, for Parker an oft-cited source of inspiration. At least two, maybe all five, pieces have deep religious themes: Parker's recited prayer, set to two violins, in "Face Still Hands Folded," and "Commitment," a trio that starts with long, searching solos by Arthur Williams (trumpet) and John Hagen (tenor sax), buoyed by Parker's bass. The title piece is a string trio (plus flute) that Parker doesn't play on, which leaves you thinking it could have used some bass. The other two pieces are larger ensembles with lots of horns: six on "Desert Flower," including a standout solo by Daniel Carter; the other opens with a typically frightful Charles Brackeen solo, and closes with Jemeel Moondoc in fine form. B+

The Feel Trio (Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Tony Oxley): Looking (Berlin Version) (1989 [1990], FMP). Parker played regularly with Taylor from 1980 to 1992. Taylor's work in the '80s was unrelentingly adventurous, so it's hard to imagine a more rigorous apprenticeship for a bassist. In July 1988 Taylor recorded a series of duets with the crème de la crème of Europe's avant-garde, including Leaf Palm Hand with Oxley (drums). In 1989 Taylor recorded "Looking (Berlin Version)" three times: solo, as the Feel Trio, and as Corona (Feel Trio plus extra strings). While it's hard to hear Parker clearly here -- Taylor has never been the sort of guy to lay out and let his mates take a solo -- he works hard to shore up Taylor, who is fast and furious and exhilarating and overwhelming, and Oxley almost always has something to add. A-

Matthew Shipp Trio: Circular Temple (1990 [1994], Infinite Zero/American). Shipp leads Parker and Whit Dickey (drums) through four parts of the title piece, one with a subtitle referring to Monk. While Shipp's lines are rooted in bebop, the group is prepared for battle with Cecil Taylor, with Parker providing buoyant, invigorating support, and Dickey accenting every turn. But whereas Taylor would just bowl over the group, Shipp is too deliberate for that. As such, he lowers the degree of difficulty, making for an album where the group chemistry stands out. B+

Charles Gayle, William Parker, Rashied Ali: Touchin' on Trane (1991 [1993], FMP). Gayle apprenticed the really hard way, playing fierce, Ayler-ish tenor sax on street corners and in subways for the sparest of spare change. He was nearly 50 before he got a shot in a studio, but three years later he lucked into this dream date. This is no tribute: the hour-plus piece is credited jointly, and is remarkably fresh and evenly balanced, with all three players astonishing. Especially Ali, who cut his teeth drumming on Coltrane's hoariest records, but who here channels his master perfectly. A-

David S. Ware Quartet: Flight of I (1991 [1992], DIW). Like Gayle, Ware is a staunch free saxophonist, but he seems to be more rounded, capable of finesse as well as fierceness. Having worked with Cecil Taylor and Andrew Cyrille, he formed a trio in 1988 with Parker and Marc Edwards (drums), and added Shipp in 1990. He's stuck with the quartet format ever since, with Parker and Shipp (and a series of drummers) as one of the longest running, most fruitful partnerships in jazz history. This album is an early peak, with Shipp exceptionally prominent, and Ware more often in pursuit of his collaborators rather than out on a limb. A-

William Parker (Ellen Christi, Lisa Sokolov, Yuko Fujiyama): Song Cycle (1991-93 [2001], Boxholder). Parker hasn't recorded a lot of vocal music, but when he has he's often returned to the songbook that he first worked out here. This shuffles two sets of performances: bass-voice duos with Christi, and trios with Fujiyama (piano) and Sokolov (voice). The trios are intimate little affairs; the duos are mostly Christi scats, with Parker's bass more prominent. But both tend to be slow, static, and arty. B-

Matthew Shipp Duo With William Parker: Zo (1993 [1997], 2.13.61 Records). In the early '90s Shipp favored duos and unconventional trios that would set up spontaneous interactions around his spare themes. This is one of the best, not least because it provides a lot of space for Parker to come out front. As is often the case with avant-jazz, a familiar standard (in this case "Summertime") provides a tether for the action, but the three parts of "Zo" are more dynamic and inventive. A-

Bill Dixon: Vade Mecum (1993 [1994], Soul Note). Dixon is a trumpet player, best known for his work with Cecil Taylor. But he remains very subdued here, adding little splotches of tone to the real source of interest, which is his rhythm section: two bass players and Tony Oxley, credited with "percussion" because he hits much more than his drum kit. But Oxley and Dixon are sparse enough that you can take this as a slightly enhanced bass duet, while Parker and Barry Guy are experts at teasing strange sounds out of their axes. Which will, of course, only interest specialists. B

Peter Brötzmann, Toshinori Kondo, William Parker, Hamid Drake: Die Like a Dog: Fragments of Music, Life and Death of Albert Ayler (1993 [1994], FMP). People who care about such things regard Brötzmann's Machine Gun (1968, FMP) as the dawn of European free jazz, but I find it sounds more like late Coltrane run through a blender by Einstürzende Neubauten: great heaps of noise unleavened by conventional musical signposts. There are dozens of Brötzmann albums, and I've heard very few of them, but one series with Parker and Drake has come to be known as the Die Like a Dog Quartet, and this was their concept and first iteration. The ghost of Albert Ayler looms large, not just here but over a large swath of free jazz, especially among musicians who started with one foot in the church, like David Murray, or wound up there, like Charles Gayle. Ayler's quest is suggested in titles like Spiritual Unity and Spirits Rejoice, but his music was full of dark brooding and painful exultation, combining a deliberate primitivism with raw emotion. This tribute is, of course, more mediated, so while it easily attains the intended levels of intensity and difficulty, its reconstructed Ayler is more knowing and expert. The two fragments from "Saint James Infirmary" help set the table, but the many quotes from Ayler's work don't manage to keep it rooted, and it does go on and on and on. Impressive, exhaustive work. B

Michael Marcus: Here At! (1993 [1994], Soul Note). Marcus plays stritch and manzello -- two obscure reed instruments, related to alto and soprano sax respectively, associated with Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Fred Hopkins plays bass on all eight cuts, but it's worth focusing on the two cuts where Parker adds a second bass. Hopkins is best known for his work with Henry Threadgill (in and out of Air) and David Murray; he's a major player, and his work here shines throughout. But when Parker enters on the third cut, "Ithem," the energy level really jumps, and the bass duet at the break is gorgeous. Parker also plays on the title cut, which with doubled drums and added brass is a more complicated affair. B+

Zusaan Kali Fasteau: Sensual Hearing (1995 [1997], Flying Note). Fasteau grew up in Paris and New York, married Donald Rafael Garrett (best known for his work on Coltrane's last albums), and traveled all over the world, collecting instruments and musical nuances. To call what she does "world music" scopes it too small: by recontextualizing a whole wide world of sounds into the freedom of avant-jazz, she sets up chance encounters that sometimes take your breath away. Of course, she also makes a mess, and she doesn't seem to be able to refine any one idea to the point it becomes compelling. But there are a few epiphanies in this one, above and beyond typically heroic work by Parker and Daniel Carter, including a vocal that sounds like throat singing before it zooms into the stratosphere, and a postpostmodern Ghanaian hoedown that gains from audience participation. B+

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Sunrise in the Tone World (1995 [1997], Aum Fidelity, 2 CD). Parker's big band takes its name from Huey Jackson, a fledgling poet who passed away before he turned 18, but who, like Parker, lived through his art and expected limitless possibilities in creative encounters. The problem, of course, is that when you assemble 24 very creative musicians, the occasional brilliant spark tends to get swamped in the misdirection. That's certainly what happens in the two long pieces here, but the title cut is beautifully measured, with even the voices adding texture and depth. B

Charles Gayle Quartet: Daily Bread (1995 [1998], Black Saint). While Gayle's long, fervent saxophone runs make for impressive noise, it can be difficult to tell them apart, and over the course of the dozen or so records he's recorded they all sort of melt into one long cry. So it helps this time that he breaks them up and varies the mix: he plays two cuts on piano, one a long thoughtful solo, and more surprisingly the group transforms itself into a string trio on two cuts, sounding not neoclassical but old-fashioned avant-garde. Wilber Morris plays bass, so for this reunion Parker plays cello and piano, to interesting effect. B+

William Parker/In Order to Survive: Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy (1995 [1997], Homestead). This seems to be Parker's breakthrough as a leader. For one thing, the quartet, with Rob Brown (alto sax), Cooper-Moore (piano), and Susie Ibarra (drums), seems to be rightsized for Parker to be heard, and all three have logged so much time in Parker's company that they're almost telepathic. This is varied, complex, rich and difficult music, with a lot of space, a lot of shifts and twists and turns. Brown's sax is the dominant instrument, but the way he bends notes and glides reminds you that this is the bass player's show. A-

David S. Ware Quartet: Godspelized (1996 [1997], DIW). Ware's sequence of '90s albums (Third Ear Recitation, Earthquation, and Dao with Whit Dickey on drums; this one and Go See the World with Susie Ibarra replacing Dickey) are pretty much of a piece: one long, articulate argument for the saxophone colossus as the voice which cuts through the darkness of the world. Or if that seems too melodramatic, it is also an argument for the community of mutual support provided by one of the longest-running, most intense collaborations in jazz history. What lets Ware project such power and majesty is the solid foundation of Parker and Shipp. Ibarra, too, makes an immediate impact, so if this isn't the peak of the series, it is certainly a majestic rise. A-

Ivo Perelman, William Parker, Rashied Ali: Sad Life (1996, Leo Lab). This may be the most relentlessly aggressive tenor saxophone record that I actually like, but the right adjective for Perelman isn't ferocious -- it's rambunctious. He certainly breaks a sweat twisting such sounds out of his instrument, but they're cut with such wit that I can't help but appreciate the fun. My only quibble is that I can't imagine what's so sad about said life, especially when you get to trio with Parker and Ali. A-

Other Dimensions in Music: Now! (1997 [1998], Aum Fidelity). This quartet -- Parker, Rashid Bakr (drums), Roy Campbell (trumpet), and Daniel Carter (reeds, flute) -- first recorded in 1989, and have dropped a few more records since. This one starts with a piece that seems intended to see how long they can stretch a simple idea out, and it clocks in at 33 minutes. The title of the second piece is their little contribution to the culture wars: "Tears for the Boy Wonder (For Winston Marsalis)." Only the last cut really lets it rip, but even there it's fairly typical. B

Matthew Shipp Trio: The Multiplication Table (1997 [1998], Hatology). Shipp's early albums as a leader are mostly duos, which let him commune intensively with a second musician, effectively a co-leader. This is different: a conventional piano-bass-drums trio, which basically means that Shipp sets the course, and bass-drums fill in. But with Parker on bass and Susie Ibarra on drums the background is a lot more muscular than almost any other trio you can name, and Shipp is rarely satisfied with one key when he can punch a whole handful. This is clearest with the covers: "Autumn Leaves" is stark and angular, "Take the A Train" emerges majestically before it is deconstructed, and "C Jam Blues" is heavy metal. The originals, of course, are more abstract. Recommended to anyone who thinks the Bad Plus is hot shit. A-

William Parker: Lifting the Sanctions (1997 [1998], No More). It's always tempting for a virtuoso to record solo, but even on piano and guitar, where it's possible to generate decent harmonics, such projects tend to sound thin and arch. Solo bass albums are among the rarest, for while bass adds color and warmth and depth to most other instruments, its normal palette and low register make it hard to sustain interest, and the temptation to coax novel sounds from it often degenerates into stupid bass tricks. This is Parker's second solo album, and is richer and more varied than 1994's Testimony (Zero In), although less intense. Not the place to start, but it does let you study Parker's technique closely, and the liner notes help. Jeff Schlanger's extended cover art helps set the mood. B+

David S. Ware: Go See the World (1997 [1998], Columbia). Omitting "Quartet" from the artist attribution seems to have been Columbia's idea -- a concession to mammon that is in no way reflected in the music here, ineluctably the work of a very tight group. Ware's part is much in line with his other albums in this series, but I want to spotlight the stretch in "Logistic" where he lays out, because the remaining trio work belongs on a hypothetical Very Best of Matthew Shipp compilation. And a similar stretch on "The Way We Were" is equally powerful, and very different. But of course Ware is still the dominant voice here -- when he blows, heads turn. A-

Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet: Strata (1997 [1998], Hatology). Shipp and Parker are joined by two horns: Roy Campbell (trumpet) and Daniel Carter (alto/tenor sax, flute, another trumpet). Shipp's writing here tends to go slow on fourteen fragments all titled "Strata," with his piano chords, and Parker's bass, looming heavy. The horns plod as well, decorative little figures and noodles which never manage to cut loose, even though they've been constructed with great care, and reward the sort of close listening that they don't quite command. B+

Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio: Ancestral Homeland (1998, No More). The drummer here is Zen Matsuura, whose deft touch on exotic rhythms recalls Kahil El'Zabar. With Parker on bass, this is a marvelous rhythm section, and Campbell's trumpet complements them nicely -- as on the title cut, and more pointedly on "Brother Yusef," where Campbell retraces his teacher Lateef's quest for modern roots in the music of antiquity. But it all comes together on the closer, "Camel Caravan," where Parker propels and Campbell riffs along, obviously enjoying the ride. B+

William Parker/In Order to Survive: The Peach Orchard (1997-98, Aum Fidelity, 2 CD). Parker's third album with this quartet is a huge, sprawling affair: eight songs, the shortest at 11:36, the longest at 25:28. The piece dedicated to South African drummer Louis Moholo is a good place to start: it is relatively spare, a lot of drums, but also a lot of space to hear Parker play bass, a real treat. "Three Clay Pots" gets a lot noisier, with Rob Brown playing inspired sax and Cooper-Moore's piano a delight in the background. "Posium Pendasem #3" starts out with a beautiful bass-piano duet, and welcomes Assif Tsahar's bass clarinet. And on "In Order to Survive" they even find a regular beat and rock out. But this is still dead serious avant-jazz: difficult, bracing, excessive, but also Parker's richest, most robust album to date. A

Ye Ren (Gary Hassay, William Parker, Toshi Makihara): Another Shining Path (1998 [1999], Drimala). Hassay plays alto saxophone, and is reportedly a pillar of the Allentown, PA creative music scene. Makihara is a drummer from Philadelphia, who has also recorded with Thurston Moore. Parker is, by comparison, an international superstar. As a trio, they aim for utter democracy, but as a practical matter, while Hassay and Makihara play impressively, they leave Parker a lot of space, and work around him carefully, which is what makes this such a good showcase for Parker's art. Only problem is the deliberate pace. B+

Matthew Shipp Duo With William Parker: DNA (1999, Thirsty Ear). This has the reassuring air of guys who've played together for ages and who can anticipate each other's move. This starts out with "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," one of those elementary songs that Shipp likes to deconstruct, and ends with "Amazing Grace," a brief coda played with all due respect. In between they do a lot of what they do do best -- a good example being the counterposed rhythms of "Orbit," with Shipp pounding out a rhythm, and Parker plucking his way around it. B+

Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake, "Kidd" Jordan, William Parker: 2 Days in April (1999 [2000], Eremite, 2CD). This is the sort of thing that people who think they hate avant-garde jazz actually hate: two saxophones, riffing aimlessly, with no beat, no melody, no harmony, tone not far removed from plug ugly. Anderson is a venerable figure from Drake's home base in Chicago; Jordan is a little known player from New Orleans, who has cut several albums with Parker. Crank it up and some features start to emerge: first, that the drummer is spectacular, and second, that the bass player ain't chopped liver either. Also the horns start to separate into lines that start to make a little sense. But if you're not committed, don't bother. B-

Matthew Shipp String Trio: Expansion, Power, Release (1999 [2001], Hatology). With Parker on bass and Mat Maneri on violin, Shipp compensates for the lack of a drummer by driving the rhythm more. Which has the added benefit of keeping Maneri's avant-classical tendencies in check -- indeed, this may be the most compelling framework he has recorded in. Vibrant, enchanting music. A-

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Mayor of Punkville (1999 [2000], Aum Fidelity). The title cut is as big and loud and long and cacophonous as you might expect from a tribe of avant-jazzers that rarely drops below 15 musicians, with the trombones and tuba weighing in heavily, but the handclaps and circus finale might catch you off guard. The other high point is "James Baldwin to the Rescue," sung by Aleta Hayes, and stretched out to 18 glorious minutes. And there are lesser treats, too, but over the long run the record, like the band, is a hopeful monster. B+

Matthew Shipp Quartet: Pastoral Composure (2000, Thirsty Ear). In 1999 Shipp was threatening to retire, but he got a job instead, as artistic director for the "Blue Series" on Thirsty Ear records. Then he needed some product, so he cut this smart, even-keeled quartet record, with Parker, Gerald Cleaver (drums), and Roy Campbell (trumpet). The deconstruction of "Frère Jacques" seems as textbook as its melody, but the record closes with a lovely Parker-Campbell duet on "Inner Order" and Shipp solo on "XTU." B+

William Parker Trio: Painter's Spring (2000, Thirsty Ear). Shipp turned to Parker for the second "Blue Series" album, which like Pastoral Composure showcases the artist at his most accessible. For example, the bass solo on "There Is a Balm in Gilead" is played for sheer beauty. The opener swings hard, and Ellington's "Come Sunday" is arresting. Hamid Drake drums expertly, and Daniel Carter plays reeds with just a whiff of the nastiness he's capable of. Still, this isn't quite easy-listening-for-downtowners; it's got so much brains and chops you have to perk up your ears. A-

William Parker & Hamid Drake: Piercing the Veil (2000 [2001], Aum Fidelity). This may be the most successful of Parker's duos, partly because Drake is so attentive, but also because Parker is the one responsible for most of the color in the music: deep bowed bass, of course, but he also plays a bit on exotic wind instruments (shakahachi, bombard) as well as adding to the percussion (balafone, dumbek). Drake, in turn, plays a little tabla. So this gives new meaning to drum & bass . . . as world-straddling exotica. A-

William Parker Quartet: O'Neal's Porch (2000 [2002], Aum Fidelity). The first three pieces here are just spectacular: twin horns (Rob Brown on alto sax and Lewis Barnes on trumpet) soaring and swooping over propulsive rhythm. The fourth, "Rise," is more difficult, the horns breaking up and opening up some space for the bassist to show off. "Song for Jesus" starts with a slow gospel theme, with drummer Hamid Drake decorating. "Leaf" and "Moon" get a bit dicier, when the two horns go their own ways, but the energy level never flags, and the bass and drums are always doing something interesting. A-

Matthew Shipp's New Orbit (2000 [2001], Thirsty Ear). The only personel change from Pastoral Composure is a new trumpet player -- Wadada Leo Smith replaces Roy Campbell -- but the pace slows down considerably. Parker's bass is prominent, and Shipp's solos are constructed with great deliberation, including his haunting coda. Smith doesn't lead so much as add color, but his attention heightens the experience. B+

Tim Berne: The Shell Game (2001, Thirsty Ear). Berne is a tenor saxophonist who has been making more/less extreme records since 1979. He's not closely associated with Parker/Shipp -- his roots lie closer to Julius Hemphill, best known for his cacophonous saxophone choirs like Five Chord Stud -- but he played on Spring Heel Jack's Masses, and cut this record for Shipp's "Blue Series." What makes this record more listenable than Berne's usual fare is Craig Taborn's "electronics & keyboards," which don't stand out so much as they set the table, reining Berne in a bit. But not so much that you can't get a charge out of his playing: "Heavy Mental," in particular, hangs with the big dogs. The only thing that detracts from this record is that now maybe he's playing a tad too nice. B+

David S. Ware Quartet: Corridors & Parallels (2001, AUM Fidelity). Shipp switches to synth here, trading in his stark piano chords for a smorgasbord of noodling effects, but this works both as backdrop and as counterpoint to Ware, who is challenged to blow some of his most expressive sax. And when the beat goes synthetic on tracks like "Sound-a-Bye" Ware just kicks it up a notch. The more regular beats go a long ways toward making this Ware's most accessible album, without in any way diminishing the power or the glory (cf. "Mother May You Rest in Bliss") of Ware's sax. A

Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Seasoning the Greens (2001 [2002], Boxholder). Cole is a Vermonter with a taste for exotic instruments, like the Australian digeridoo he kicks this off with. For this album he starts with a piece by percussionist Warren Smith and fleshes it out into a world tour of rhythms: Korea, Ghana, South India, Colombia, even a little down-home blues. Cooper-Moore adds to the exotica with "handmade instruments," most prominently penny whistle. Sam Furnace plays alto sax, most impressively during the Colombian sequence. Parker plays bass, and Smith's drumwork is especially noteworthy. There is also a tuba, congas and bongos, making for a robust feast. A-

Andrew Barker, Matthew Shipp, Charles Waters: Apostolic Polyphony (2001 [2003], Drimala). Waters seems to be the leader here: he is billed first in the song credits (or "inventions," as they are called), and he plays frontline instruments -- alto sax in typical but emphatic free style, and clarinet for more intriguing color and effect. Barker (drums) and Shipp provide rhythm and background, and keep "Three-Two Invention" to themselves. All three musicians make their marks, but this is an especially strong showcase for Shipp, who proves to be a remarkably attentive partner, with chops to spare. Last cut is a Shannon Fields remix, a nice touch. A-

Spring Heel Jack: The Blue Series Continuum: Masses (2001, Thirsty Ear). This seems to have been the record that kicked Shipp's "blue series" out of the avant-garde and into electronica, although the shift must have hit Spring Heel Jack's fans even harder: for years now they (Ashley Wales, John Coxon) have been making clever little drum 'n' bass records like 68 Million Shades and Busy Curious Thirsty, but here their electronics get mauled by horns like Tim Berne and Daniel Carter. One piece ("Chiaroscuro") develops a roiling industrial rhythm, which Carter blows to hell. Mat Maneri paints another ("Cross") with astringent viola. "Salt" is rollicking rhythm, with Parker and Shipp motorvating and Evan Parker squeaking away. Berne groans his way through the somber "Medusa's Head," then groans even hoarier on "Red Worm." The range of sound and the diversity of creation are astonishing. A-

William Parker Clarinet Trio: Bob's Pink Cadillac (2001 [2002], Eremite, 2 CD). Bass, drums (Walter Perkins), clarinet (Perry Robinson). In his liner notes Parker talks about playing with Robinson and Perkins in an Italian restaurant in Hoboken in 1985, but neither show up in Parker's sessionography until this session, 16 years later. The spotlight is on Robinson, a little known veteran whose 1962 debut, Funk Dumpling, struck a fine balance between wholesome melody and avant-garde edge. His playing here is a bit edgier, but over the course of two long discs is remarkably varied and rich. Terrific idea. A-

William Parker Quartet Featuring Leena Conquest: Raining on the Moon (2001 [2002], Thirsty Ear). The Quartet is the same as on O'Neal's Porch: Rob Brown and Lewis Barnes up front, Hamid Drake on drums. This is a superb avant-jazz group, but here they bend over backwards for accessibility: real songs, most with Conquest singing. "James Baldwin to the Rescue" is reprised, and the title song posits a political fantasy, starting with the election of Geronimo, that is sweeter and smarter than "Nellyville," while the band vamps like something out of "Chocolate City," finally pulling out a sobering thought: "if you knew what you did you'd be evil." While the popcraft here is definitely skewed, there's nothing here that you have to reach for, let alone grin-and-bear. At his best, Parker makes you realize that not only is a better world possible, but that this may be it. A

Matthew Shipp: Songs (2001 [2002], Splasc(h)). Solo piano: nine songs, ranging from Martin Luther's "Almighty Fortress Is Our God" to Sonny Rollins' "East Broadway Run Down." These are rather straightforward affairs: state the theme, deconstruct it, put it back together again. Shipp plays thoughtfully, but with little flash. The tempos are moderate, slow even. Yet the sound is distinctive, and the logic is enticing. B+

William Parker, Joe Morris, Hamid Drake: Eloping With the Sun (2001 [2003], Riti). The choice of instruments here constrains the music: Parker plays zintir, a Moroccan instrument like a bass lute; Morris plays banjo and banjouke; Drake plays frame drum, good for no more than a muted thump. Given these constraints, the music has very little dynamic range, so the variations are necessarily subtle: this is, in short, minimalism, albeit more exotic and more beguiling than the arid tapestries of, say, Steve Reich. B+

Matthew Shipp: Nu Bop (2002, Thirsty Ear). First comes a natty little twist of synths, then comes a set of hard piano chords, and "Space Shipp" takes off for jazztronica heaven. The fusion here is provided by Chris Flam, whose synths and programming set the foundation for the otherwise acoustic quartet (Parker, Daniel Carter, Guillermo E. Brown), but part of the reason it works so well is that, at least on the fast ones, Shipp and Parker add to the rhythm, rather than just play off it. As for the slow ones ("X-Ray," "Nu Abstract"), they play more like Bowie/Eno. A breakthrough. A-

Organic Grooves: Black Cherry (2002, Aum Fidelity). This remixes Piercing the Veil, providing regular and supple beats to marshall snatches of sound from the Parker/Drake palette. That doesn't leave much of the original labor-intensive work; rather, this percolates with remarkable ease, light and graceful. A-

Guillermo E. Brown: Soul at the Hands of the Machine (2002, Thirsty Ear). Of all the jazz musicians that Shipp's "Blue Series" has encouraged to dabble with electronics, Brown seems to be the one who has the most fun. This is somewhat reminiscent of Jon Hassell's "fourth world" exotica, especially when Daniel Carter adds a little horn color. But it's also more complex, and more mannered, with a track like "Outside Looking In" all compressed together to give you that free jazz tension thing (not my idea of a plus). B+

William Parker Trio: . . . And William Danced (2002, Ayler). This is just a quickie blowing session on a trip to Stockholm, where Parker and Hamid Drake meet Anders Gahnold, a local who plays alto sax, and whose only prior claim to fame was playing with South African bassist Johnny Dyani. So they cut three pieces, each with "Dance" in the title, for a total of 66 minutes, and wrap it up so fast that Parker and Drake managed to cut another whole album that evening. So it should be nothing special, but in fact they play it like an NBA All-Star game: the moves may be their standard bag of tricks, but Parker and Drake are so talented, and work so well together, that it's just delightful to hear them work flat out. And Gahnold, if anything, pushes them faster and harder: he plays like Jackie McLean on steroids, a more muscular sound that remains every bit as sure-footed. A

Jemeel Moondoc Trio: Live at Glenn Miller Café, Vol. 1 (2002, Ayler). Recorded later the same day, and at first Parker and Drake seem a little subdued, maybe even tired. This also has some of the usual artifacts of live recordings: patter, crowd noise, long bass solo, long drum solo. Still, the main difference is that this is Moondoc's date and material, and he has a way of sneaking up on you. In Parker's notes he talks about ancient rhythms from Aztec, Mayan, and Incan civilizations, and claims that there are "only two people who can play this ancient futuristic music -- Don Cherry was one. Jemeel Moondoc is the other." Parker's relationship with Moondoc goes back to 1974, so he should know. A-

VisionFest: VisionLive (2002 [2003], Thirsty Ear). The Vision Festival is an annual forum for art, dance and music, coordinated by dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, aka Mrs. William Parker, and her group, Arts for Art. This is a brief sampler and souvenir from the 2002 Festival. With nine pieces from as many groups, it is a small but diverse selection, making for sharp contrasts: Dave Burrell vs. Matthew Shipp on piano, Billy Bang vs. Mat Maneri on violin/viola, Jemeel Moondoc on the opening Albert Ayler piece vs. Kidd Jordan and Fred Anderson on their own Ayler-inspired track. Also note that while Parker gets in on five tracks here, the closing 10:35 bass solo is by the masterful Peter Kowald, a fitting memento recorded three months before his death. B+

DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid: Optometry (2002, Thirsty Ear). Featuring the Shipp/Parker/Brown rhythm section, this time with Joe McPhee for color and bravado, as a DJ album this mines the hard, funky stuff: Shipp's percussive block chords, Parker's swing, Brown's acoustic drums driving home Spooky's synths. There are guests, samples, a couple of raps. But whereas Nu Bop was still a jazz record with a soupçon of electronics, this one seems to have been hacked and spliced, moving it solidly into DJ territory. And while this runs the risk of getting all atmospheric on you, it's a smart, varied piece of state-of-the-art fusion. As one rap goes, "Heads don't even know what's happening to 'em/they just know something's happening to 'em." A-

David S. Ware Quartet: Freedom Suite (2002, Aum Fidelity). When the bebop movement flourished, much was made of the virtuosity of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, how their speed and improvisational skills stacked up against their antecedents, but the bebop pianists always had an insurmountable predecessor, namely Art Tatum. Like Tatum in the bebop era, Sonny Rollins stands outside and in many ways above and beyond the Ayler-Dolphy-Coltrane mainstream of avant saxophone. This is one of the few avant efforts both to pay tribute to Rollins and to try to make something new of his legacy, and it succeeds on virtually every level. In part, this is possible because Rollins' 1958 original was little more than a sketch with some improvisation. But mostly it's because the Ware Quartet works more on fleshing out the sketch than on competing with the improvisation, and because they bring group strength to the fore, whereas Rollins always seemed like he'd rather just do it all by himself. Ware's tone is heavier and more muscular, Parker is more active, and Shipp adds immensely to the mix. A-

Matthew Shipp: Equilibrium (2002 [2003], Thirsty Ear). No horns this time, as vibist Khan Jamal replaces Daniel Carter. The record see-saws between fast and slow pieces, with "Vamp to Vibe" and "Cohesion" and "The Root" advancing from Nu Bop, while "Nebula Theory" and "World of Blue Grass" sound a bit like those dark blotches on the backside of David Bowie's Low. In fact, Flam's synths are more conspicuous on the slow pieces, with the regular beat of the fast pieces coming from bass and drums. "Equilibrium" itself is an acoustic track showcasing Shipp's piano with vibes for accents, but the most interesting piece is "The Key," which is just Jamal over bass and drums. The shifts and balancing flow impeccably, with the piano intro and coda establishing the auteur, yet everyone contributes significantly. In other words, this is structured as soundly as one of those classic FM rock albums from the '70s. In the arcane world of avant-jazz that is unprecedented, but this don't sound like a sell-out; if anything, it's a buy-in. A-

Spring Heel Jack: Amassed (2002, Thirsty Ear). This time they've kept Shipp, but swapped out the rest of the Yanks in favor of veterans of Europe's creative vanguard, like Han Bennink, Paul Rutherford, Kenny Wheeler, and Evan Parker. Again, Coxon and Wales just frame the pieces, then let the masters work. The result is a bit more of a mixed bag than with Masses; much of it moves slowly, with sound effects that don't amount to much, but Wheeler does lovely work on "Lit," and Evan Parker is unmistakable on "Maroc." And "Obscured" returns to their industrial din, a triumphant finale. B+

Mat Maneri Featuring Joe McPhee: Sustain (2002, Thirsty Ear). Maneri plays viola here, which combines with Parker's bass to give this record a deeper string sound. McPhee plays soprano sax, a lighter voice which fits in unobtrusively. The group rounds out with Gerald Cleaver on drums and Craig Taborn on keyboards, the latter enriching the mix with a bit of electronics, but I'm not sure where the metallic sounds on "Alone" come from -- more likely Maneri or Parker scraping something than anything Taborn might synthesize. B+

Antipop Consortium: Antipop Vs. Matthew Shipp (2002 [2003], Thirsty Ear). At first Beans and Priest seem awed, declaiming "this is very powerful music." Indeed, it is, from a lead-off Shipp solo that rocks out to some heavy pounding on "Free Bop." Indeed, if you take the Vs. seriously, you have to score this one for Shipp, who makes his mark time and again, while the raps don't amount to much. But "Monstro City," from Parker's lead to Shipp's decorations, is beautifully balanced, oblique rap included. It could work, and almost does. B+

Spring Heel Jack: Live (2003, Thirsty Ear). The band is a bit smaller than the masses amassed in their last two studio albums, with Evan Parker as the sole horn, Jason Pierce (of Spiritualized, d/b/a J Spaceman) on guitar, William Parker on bass, Shipp playing Fender Rhodes, and Han Bennink hitting things. Coxon/Wales add divers sound effects, to less structural effect than in the studio albums. The music winds on for 75 minutes, the first part ending with an exceptionally nice coda, the second part starting with a commanding Bennink solo. But over the course of this album pretty much every sound that these guys can conjure somehow finds its way into the mix somewhere, for better or worse. It was probably a lot of fun at the time. B

DJ Spooky That Submliminal Kid: Dubtometry (2003, Thirsty Ear). By this point, Shipp's jazz funk plus electronics have been run through the grinder twice: once in turning the project over to DJ Spooky, and again as he's turned his tapes over to 17 other DJs. While this preserves some of the original tones and sounds, the DJs have mostly jacked up the beats (Karsh Kale's piece is perhaps the simplest and one of the most effective examples), and added a kitchen sink of effects, including dub vocals and J-Live's rap. Scratch Perry and Mad Professor get cover credit, which is Marketing's big contribution. B+

William Parker Violin Trio: Scrapbook (2003, Thirsty Ear). The violin is Billy Bang, the third member Hamid Drake: the group is such a natural idea -- Parker and Bang played together quite a bit from 1974 through the '80s -- it's a surprise that it's taken so long to come about, but the results are even better than you'd expect. One can point to Parker's work with Mat Maneri for an indication of how well bass/violin can mesh, but Bang is a different cat altogether: like all avant violinists Bang started out from Leroy Jenkins, but he also worked with Sun Ra, who turned him onto Stuff Smith, and he founded the String Trio of New York with John Lindberg. The upshot is that Bang spans the whole history of jazz fiddle, in and out, up and down, with an unmistakable piercing sound and unlimited dynamics. The program here is a new set of Parker pieces, based on reminiscences -- dressing for church, watching children in colorful clothes. There's remarkable music throughout, interesting rhythms, striking phasing between bass and violin. And while Bang is the most vivid voice, Parker is always clear and remarkable, especially in his intro solo on "Holiday for Flowers." A

The Blue Series Continuum: The GoodandEvil Sessions (2003, Thirsty Ear). The Thirsty Ear (Shipp-Parker) house band gets a face lift here, with brass up front (two trombones and Roy Campbell on trumpet) and GoodandEvil's anonymous producers at the knobs, providing the beats. The beats themselves sound like they were requisitioned from a candy store, which provides an agreeable lightness except when swamped by cartoonish sturm und drang. Nice enough, but when something interesting happens it's usually because a real musician has managed to make himself heard. And more often than not, it's on trombone. B+

The David S. Ware String Ensemble: Threads (2003, Thirsty Ear). I knew we were in trouble when the publicist started talking about how beautiful the new Ware + strings album is; then come the notes where Ware concedes that "there are enough records with me blowing my brains out." But this only adds two strings -- Matt Maneri on viola, and Daniel Bernard Roumain on violin -- to Ware's usual quartet, with the oomph still coming from Parker's bass and Shipp's synth. The idea is to focus on the Berklee-trained Ware as a composer, and to this end he lays out on three tracks, and lays back on the other three. But without his roiling sax the compositional ideas are primitive: the title cut rolls gently between paired notes for 13 minutes, the strings adding rich harmonic texture; "Ananda Rotation" is little more than a sheet of background synth, lightly etched with Ware riffs; "Carousel of Lightness" is merely a lazy river of tone; the two "Weave" pieces are drum improvs around sax backbones; and "Sufic Passages" rides its intro bass vamp into a plethora of variations. The latter is the best thing here: it reminds me a bit of Eno's Another Green World, but lushly overgrown. B+

Note on Availability: I haven't checked on availability of these albums, but nearly all of them should be available somehow/somewhere. Still, the chances that you'll find any of them at your local discount chain are pretty slim. Even the largest stores and internet sources with extensive jazz sections are likely to be missing some titles, so it's worth noting the following specialist distributors:

  • Cadence: easily the largest US distributor of avant-jazz records; they publish Cadence magazine, but beware that they have a surcharge for non-subscribers; also that the website is clunky and doesn't support secure shopping.
  • Forced Exposure: vast catalog of obscure and difficult musics, including but not limited to jazz; website has useful descriptions, but browsing can be difficult.
  • Squidco: Another source for avant-garde music. Note that William Parker is on their "featured artist" list.

Finally, I want to point out the wonderful discographies that Rick Lopez has produced for Parker and Shipp -- treasure troves of information, some of the finest scholarship available on the internet today.


Here's a list of records which include everything in Parker's and/or Shipp's name, almost everything that they've played on (although not compilations), everything in Thirsty Ear's "Blue Series," almost everything on Aum Fidelity, and a few things by artists closely related to Parker/Shipp. The titles in red are in house; the purplish color are things that I've heard and rated but don't actually have. These are sorted by the earliest date I've found -- recording or release (semicolons separate releases; dates are YYYY.MM.DD, with - indicating a range). Most of this comes from Rick Lopez's wonderful discographies.

  • Frank Lowe: Black Beings [1973.03; ESP Disk 3013]
  • The Music Ensemble: The Music Ensemble [1974.04.24, 1975.02.15; Roaratorio 3: 2001]
  • Earl Freeman: The University Jazz Symphonette Presents Soundcraft 75/Fantasy for Orchestra [1975.02.18; Anima 1001]
  • Kazutoki "Kappo" Umezu: Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai [1975.08.11; Ski 1]
  • Ensemble Muntu: First Feeding [1977.04.17; Muntu 1001]
  • Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble: New York College [1978.05.16; Anima 1002]
  • Todd Capp & the Improvising Orhcestra: Volume 1: Quintessence [1978.11.27; Lucky Tiger 10013: 1999]
  • Peter Kuhn: Living Right [1978.12.19; Big City 225: 1979]
  • Jemeel Moondoc & Quartet Muntu: The Evening of the Blue Men [1979; Muntu 1002]
  • William Parker: Through Acceptance of the Mystery Peace [1974.02, 1976.10.24, 1977.08, 1979.01.21; Centering 1001: 1981; Eremite 12: 1998, 2003]
  • Wayne Horvitz: Simple Facts [1980.05; Theater for Your Mother 4]
  • Billy Bang: Changing Seasons [1980.06.28; Bellows 4: 1981]
  • Commitment Ensemble: Commitment [1980.10.13-14; Flying Panda 1001: 1981]
  • Jemeel Moondoc & Muntu: New York Live [1980.10.24,1981.04.02; Cadence Jazz 1006: 1981]
  • Jemeel Moondoc & Muntu: The Intrepid Live in Poland [1981.04.14; Poljazz 106]
  • Jemeel Moondoc Sextet: Konstanze's Delight [1981.10.24; Soul Note 121041: 1983]
  • Cecil Taylor: Calling It the Eighth [1981.11.08; Hat Musics 3508]
  • Peter Kuhn Quartet: The Kill [1981.01.12-12.20; Soul Note 121043]
  • Wayne Horvitz, Butch Morris, William Parker: Some Order, Long Understood [1982.02.06; Black Saint 120059: 1983]
  • Amy Shefer: Where's Your Home? [1981, 1983.03; (Private Issue) 84: 1984]
  • Jimmy Lyons: Wee Sneezawee [1983.09.26-27; Black Saint 120067: 1984]
  • Jackson Krall: Jackson Krall & the Secret Music Society [1984; Stork Music 1003]
  • Ellen Christi With Menage: Live at Irving Plaza [1984.06.28; Soul Note 121097]
  • Billy Bang Sextet: Fire From Within [1984.09.19-29; Soul Note 121086]
  • Cecil Taylor Segments II (Orchestra of Two Continents): Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants) [1984.10.21-24; Soul Note 1089: 1985]
  • Peter Brötzmann Clarinet Project: Berlin Djungle [1984.11.04; FMP 1120: 1987]
  • A.R. Penck: Going Through [1985; (No Label)]
  • Jimmy Lyons: The Box Set [5CD] [1972.09, 1975.06.30, 1978.07.27, 1981.04.09, 1985.02.12; Ayler 36-40]
  • Bill Dixon: Thoughts [1985.05.16; Soul Note 1111: 1987]
  • Jemeel Moondoc Quintet: Nostalgia in Times Square [1985.11.24; Soul Note 121141: 1986]
  • Steve Cohn: The Beggar and the Robot in Diamonds [1986.01.30; ITM-Media Pacific 970089: 1996]
  • Cecil Taylor: Olu Iwa [1986.04.12; Soul Note 121139: 1994]
  • Marco Eneidi: Vermont, Spring, 1986 [1986.05; Botticelli 1001]
  • Amy Sheffer: We'um [1985.12.27,1986.06.18; I Am Shee: 1987]
  • Trio Hurricane (Paul Murphy, Glenn Spearman, William Parker): "Suite of Winds" [1986.08.25; Black Saint 120102: 1986, 1994]
  • Ellen Christi: Star of Destiny [1986.09.20; NYCAC 504]
  • Billy Bang Sextet: Live at Carlos 1 [1986.11.23; Soul Note 121136]
  • Jerome Cooper Quintet: Outer and Interactions [1987.02; About Time 1008: 1988]
  • Takashi Tazamaki: Eikou no Hata ["The Flags of Ships in Tow"]/Live in New York [1987.07.09; Ombasha 4: 1988]
  • The Cecil Taylor Unit: Live in Bologna [1987.11.03; Leo 404/405: 1988]
  • The Cecil Taylor Unit: Live in Vienna [1987.11.07; Leo 408/409: 1988]
  • Cecil Taylor: Tzotzil Mummers Tzotzil [1987.11.13; Leo 162: 1988]
  • Matthew Shipp & Rob Brown: Sonic Explorations [1987.11.19, 1988.02.14; Cadence Jazz 1037: 1988, 2000]
  • David S. Ware Trio: Passage to Music [1988.04.04-05; Silkheart 117: 1989]
  • Cecil Taylor European Orchestra: Alms/Tiergarten (Spree) [1987.07.02; FMP 8/9 2CD]
  • William Hooker Quartet: Lifeline [1988.08.06; Silkheart 119: 1989]
  • Khan Jamal: Speak Easy [1988.09.02; Gazell 4001: 1989]
  • William Parker/Tom Tedesco: Painter's Autumn [Centering 1002: 1989]
  • Other Dimensions in Music (Daniel Carter, William Parker, Roy Campbell, Rashid Bakr): Other Dimensions in Music [1989.04.24-25; Silkheart 120: 1989]
  • Rob Brown: Breath Rhyme [1989.04.28-29; Silkheart 122: 1990]
  • Cecil Taylor: In Florescence [1989.06.08; A&M 5286: 1990]
  • The Feel Trio (Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Tony Oxley): Looking (Berlin Version) [1989.11.02; FMP 25: 1990]
  • Cecil Taylor: Looking (Berlin Version) Corona [1989.11.03-04; FMP 31: 1991]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Great Bliss, Volume 1 [1990.01.08-10; Silkheart 127: 1991]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Great Bliss, Volume 2 [1990.01.08-10; Silkheart 128: 1991]
  • Matthew Shipp Quartet: Points [1990.01.14, 1990.03.18; Silkheart 129: 1990]
  • The Feel Trio (Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Tony Oxley): Celebrated Blazons [1990.06.29; FMP 58: 1993]
  • Cecil Taylor Feel Trio: 2 Ts for a Lovely T [1990.08.27-09.01: Codanza 1: 2002, 10CD]
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: Circular Temple [1990.10.16; Quinton 1: 1992; Infinite Zero/American 14506: 1994]
  • Michael Marcus: Under the Wire [1990.05, 1990.11; Enja 6064: 1991]
  • Marc Edwards Quartet: Black Queen [1990.11.12; Alphaphonics 1: 1991]
  • The Associated Big Band: The Associated Big Band [1991; Stork 1001]
  • Philip Wilson: The Philip Wilson Project [1991.04; Jazzdoor 1243]
  • Marco Eneidi: The Marco Eneidi Coalition [1991.09.12-13; Botticelli 1010: 1994]
  • Roy Campbell: New Kingdom [1991.10.06-08; Delmark 456: 1992]
  • Charles Gayle/William Parker/Rashied Ali: Touchin' on Trane [1991.10.31-1991.11.01; FMP 48: 1993]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Flight of I [1991.12.10-11; DIW 856: 1992; DIW/Columbia 52956: 1992]
  • Ellen Christi: Instant Reality [1992; Network Records 2001: 1995]
  • Peter Brötzmann: The Marz Combo, Live in Wuppertal [1992.02.18; FMP 47: 1993]
  • Roscoe Mitchell & the Note Factory: This Dance Is for Steve McCall [1992.05.18; Black Saint 120150: 1992]
  • Collective 4tet: Dreamcatcher [1992.08.02; Stork 1007: 1992]
  • Zusaan Kali Fasteau: Prophecy [1990.03.09, 1992.06.19, 1992.08.10-11; Flying Note 9003: 1993]
  • Takashi Kazamaki & Kalle Laar: Floating Flames [1992.09.23; Ear-Rational 1038: 1994]
  • David S. Ware: Third Ear Recitation [1992.10.14-15; DIW 870: 1993]
  • Zane Massey Trio: Brass Knuckles [1992.11.19-22; Delmark 464: 1993]
  • Charles Gayle Quartet: Volume 1, Translation [1993.01.21-22; Silkheart 134: 1993]
  • Charles Gayle Quartet: Volume 2, Raining Fire [1993.01.22; Silkheart 137: 1993]
  • Collective 4tet: Bindu [1993.02.21; Stock 1015: 1993]
  • Charles Gayle Quartet: More Live [1993.02.01-22; Knitting Factory 137: 1993, 2CD]
  • William Parker (Ellen Christi, Lisa Sokolov, Yuko Fujiyama): Song Cycle [1991.10.10, 1993.03.03; Boxholder 17: 2001]
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: Prism [1993.03.26, Brinkman 58; Hatology 549: 2000]
  • Charles Gayle: Consecration [1993.04.16-17; Black Saint 120138: 1993]
  • Matthew Shipp Duo With William Parker: Zo [1993.05; Rise 126: 1994; 2.13.61 Records 21315: 1997]
  • William Parker: In Order to Survive [1993.04.11, 1993.06.28; Black Saint 120159: 1995]
  • Rob Brown Trio (William Parker, Jackson Krall): High Wire [1993.07.22; Soul Note 121266: 1996.05.21]
  • Bill Dixon: Vade Mecum [1993.08.02-04; Soul Note 121208: 1994]
  • Bill Dixon: Vade Mecum II [1993.08.02-04; Soul Note 121211: 1996]
  • Peter Brötzmann/Toshinori Kondo/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Die Like a Dog: Fragments of Music, Life and Death of Albert Ayler [1993.08.19; FMP 64: 1994]
  • Michael Marcus: Here At! [1993.09.07-12; Soul Note 121243: 1994]
  • Marco Eneidi Quintet: Final Disconnect Notice [1993.09.29; Botticelli 1011: 1994]
  • Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris: Testament: A Conduction Collection [1993.11.11-12; New World 80478 10CD: 1995]
  • Joe Morris-Rob Brown Quartet (William Parker, Jackson Krall): Illuminate [1993.11.09; Leo Lab 8: 1995]
  • Sacred Scrape (Peter Brötzmann, Gregg Bendian, William Parker): Secret Response / Live in the U.S. 1992 [1993.11.13-20; Rastascan 15: 1994]
  • Prima Materia: Peace on Earth (Music of John Coltrane) [Knitting Factory 158: 1994]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Earthquation [1994.05.04-05; DIW 892: 1994]
  • Charles Gayle With Sunny Murray & William Parker: Kingdom Come [1994.06.08; Knitting Factory 157: 1994]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Flowers Grow in My Room [1994.02-07; Centering 1002: 1994]
  • Derek Bailey/John Zorn/William Parker: Harras [1994.09; Avant 56: 1995]
  • Carlos Ward: Live at the Bug & Other Sweets [1994.09.10; Peull Music 2: 1995]
  • Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio: Communion [1994.09.13-14; Silkheart 139: 1995]
  • Matthew Shipp Quartet: Critical Mass [1994.09.23; 2.13.61 Records 3: 1995]
  • Christoph Gallio: À Gertrude Stein [1994.10.10-11; Percaso Productions 16: 1996]
  • Collective 4tet: Ropedancer [1994.11.14-15; Leo Lab 21: 1996]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Cryptology [1994.12.02; Homestead 220: 1995]
  • William Parker: Testimony [1994.12.28; Zero In 1: 1995]
  • Zusaan Kali Fasteau: Sensual Hearing [1995.01-02; Flying Note 9005: 1997]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Sunrise in the Tone World [1995.01.29, 1995.02.19, 1995.02.26; Aum Fidelity 2/3: 1997.10.10]
  • Joe Morris: No Vertigo [1995.04; Leo 226]
  • Matthew Shipp: The Flow of X [1995.05.14; 2.13.61 Records 21326: 1997]
  • Matthew Shipp: Before the World [1995.06.15; FMP 81: 1997]
  • Matthew Shipp Duo With Roscoe Mitchell: 2-Z [1995.08.15; 2.13.61 Records 21312: 1996]
  • Intermission: Song of Low Songs [1995.09.15; Bvhaast 9612: 1996]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Oblations and Blessings [1995.09.27-28; Silkheart 145: 1996]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Dao [1995.09.29; Homestead 230: 1996]
  • Charles Gayle Quartet: Daily Bread [1995.10.25-28; Black Saint 120158: 1998]
  • Werner Ludi: Ki [1995.11.14; Intakt 51: 1998]
  • William Parker's In Order to Survive: Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy [1995.12.18; Homestead 231: 1997]
  • Matthew Shipp: Symbol Systems [1995.11.22; No More 1: 1995]
  • Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp: Bendito of Santa Cruz [1996.01; Cadence Jazz 1076: 1997]
  • Ivo Perelman: Brazilian Watercolour [1996.01; Leo 266; 1999]
  • Joe Morris Ensemble (Whit Dickey, Matthew Shipp, William Parker): Elsewhere [1996.02.26; Homestead 5233: 1996]
  • Rashid Bakr/Frode Gjerstad/William Parker: Seeing New York From the Ear [Cadence Jazz 1069: 1996]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Godspelized [1996.05.02-03; DIW 916: 1997]
  • Christopher Cauley (Gregg Bendian, William Parker, Steve Swell): FINland [1996.05.31; Eremite 6: 1996]
  • Ivo Perelman (Matthew Shipp, William Parker): Cama de Terra [1996.06.06; Homestead 237: 1996]
  • Ivo Perelman (William Parker, Rashied Ali): Sad Life [1996.06.18; Leo Lab 27: 1996]
  • Ivo Perelman/William Parker/Rashied Ali: Live [1996.06.19; Zero In 2: 1997]
  • Assif Tsahar Trio (William Parker, Susie Ibarra): Shekhina [1996.07.27; Eremite 4: 1997]
  • Matthew Shipp String Trio: By the Law of Music [Hat Art 6200: 1997]
  • Sprawl: Sprawl [1968.08; Trost 70: 1997]
  • Rob Brown Duo With Matthew Shipp: Blink of an Eye [1996.10.12; No More 3: 1997.07.01]
  • Dorgon + William Parker: 9 [1996.10; Jumbo 1: 1998]
  • Dorgon + William Parker: Broken/Circle [Jumbo 5: 1998]
  • Ivo Perelman Quartet (Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemingway, William Parker): En Adir: Traditional Jewish Songs [1996.10; Music & Arts 996: 1997]
  • Ivo Perelman Quartet (Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemingway, William Parker): Sound Hierarchy [1996.10; Music & Arts 997: 1998]
  • Collective 4tet: Orca [1996.10.15; Leo Lab 31: 1997]
  • David S. Ware: Wisdom of Uncertainty [1996.12.02-03; Aum Fidelity 1: 1997]
  • Joe Morris/William Parker: Invisible Weave [1997.01.10; No More 4: 1997]
  • Assif Tsahar Trio: Ein Sof [1997.01.16-27; Silkheart 148: 1997]
  • Thomas Borgmann, Peter Brötzmann, William Parker, Rashied Bakr: The Cooler Suite [1997.01.21; GROB 539: 2003]
  • Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris: Thesis [1997.01.23; Hatology 506: 1997.11]
  • Marco Eneidi/Glenn Spearman/William Parker/Jackson Krall: Live at Radio Valencia [1997.01.25; Botticelli 1014: 2000]
  • Other Dimensions in Music: Now! [1997.03.19; Aum Fidelity 6: 1998.05.01]
  • Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory: Nine to Get Ready [1997.05; ECM 1651: 1999]
  • Collective 4tet: Live at Crescent [1997.05.15; Leo Lab 43: 1998]
  • Vision Volume One: Vision Festival 1997 Compiled [1997.05.28-06.01; Aum Fidelity 7/8: 1998, 2CD]
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: The Multiplication Table [1997.07.17; Hatology 516: 1998]
  • Trio Hurricane (Paul Murphy, William Parker, Glenn Spearman): Live at Fire in the Valley [1997.07.26; Eremite 10: 1998]
  • Raphé Malik (Denis Charles, Sabir Mateen, William Parker): ConSequences [1997.07.26; Eremite 13: 1999]
  • Joe Morris Trio: Antennae [1997.07; Aum Fidelity 4: 1997.11.18]
  • New York 3 (Michael Fischer, William Parker, Denis Charles): Give [1997.10.00; Extraplatte 383: 1999]
  • Frode Gjerstad Trio: Ultima [1997.10.07; Cadence Jazz 1108: 1999]
  • Frode Gjerstad Trio (Frode Gjerstad, William Parker, Hamid Drake): Remember to Forget [1997.10.08; Circulasione Totale 199710: 1998]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog Quartet: Little Birds Have Fast Hearts, No. 1 [1997.11.07-08; FMP 97: 1999]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog Quartet: Little Birds Have Fast Hearts, No. 2 [1997.11.07-08; FMP 101: 1999]
  • William Parker: Lifting the Sanctions [1997.11.29; No More 6: 1998]
  • Other Dimensions in Music Special Quintet With Matthew Shipp: Time Is the Essence Beyond Time [1997.12.02; Aum Fidelity 13: 2000.03.03]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Go See the World [1997.12.11-12; Columbia 69138: 1998]
  • Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet: Strata [1997.12.14; Hatology 522: 1998]
  • Joelle Leandre/William Parker: Contrabasses [1998.01.09; Leo 261: 1998]
  • Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio (William Parker, Zen Matsuura): Ancestral Homeland [1998.02.12; No More 7: 1998]
  • Alan Silva & William Parker: A Hero's Welcome: Pieces for Rare Occasions [1998.03.06; Eremite 17: 1999]
  • William Parker's In Order to Survive: The Peach Orchard [1997.02.07, 1997.07.02, 1998.03.20-21; Aum Fidelity 10/11: 1998.12.08, 2CD]
  • Intermission With Derek Bailey, Chris Burn and Gilius van Bergeijk: Unanswered Questions [1998.04.02-05; Bvhaast 9906: 1999]
  • William Parker's In Order to Survive: Posium Pendasem [1998.04.09-11; FMP 105: 1999]
  • Matthew Shipp/Mat Maneri: Gravitational Systems [1998.05.10; Hatology 530: 1998]
  • Raphé Malik Quartet (Glenn Spearman, William Parker, Denis Charles): Companions [1998.05.25; Eremite 34: 2002]
  • Joe Morris Quartet: A Cloud of Black Birds [1998.06.26; Aum Fidelity 9: 1998.11.06]
  • Agustí Fernandez Trio: One Night at the Joan Miro Foundation [1998.07.16; Synergy 55301: 1999]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog Quartet: From Valley to Valley [1998.07.25; Eremite 18: 1999]
  • Jemeel Moondoc & William Parker: New World Pygmies [1998.07.27; Eremite 20: 1999]
  • Ye Ren (Gary Hassay, William Parker, Toshi Makihara): Another Shining Path [1998.08.02; Drimala 99347: 1999]
  • Mat Maneri Trio (Matthew Shipp, Randy Peterson): So What? [1998.08.14; Hatology 529: 1999]
  • Marco Eneidi/William Parker/Donald Robinson: Cherry Box [1998.09.20; Eremite 25: 2000]
  • Susie Ibarra & Assif Tsahar: Home Cookin' [1998.02.28, 1998.09.15; Hopscotch 1]
  • David Budbill & William Parker: Zen Mountains Zen Streets: A Duet for Poet & Improvised Bass [1998.10.16-18; Boxholder 1/2: 1999, 2CD]
  • Joel Futterman/William Parker/Jimmy Williams: Authenticity [1998.11.09; Kali 109: 1999]
  • Steve Dalachinsky: Incomplete Directions [1998.11.18; Knitting Factory 235: 1999]
  • Matthew Shipp Duo With William Parker: DNA [1999.01.06; Thirsty Ear 57067: 1999.04.30]
  • Matthew Shipp, Rob Brown, William Parker: Magnetism [1999.01.26; Bleu Regard 1957: 1999]
  • Joe Morris: Underthru [1999.03; Omnitone 11904]
  • Jemeel Moondoc All-Stars: Live in Paris [1999.03.23; Cadence Jazz 1151: 2003]
  • Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake, "Kidd" Jordan, William Parker: 2 Days in April [1999.04.01-02; Eremite 23/24: 2000, 2CD]
  • "Kidd" Jordan Quartet (Joel Futterman, William Parker, Alvin Fielder): New Orleans Festival Suite [1999.05.02; Silkheart 152: 2001]
  • Kali Fasteau: Vivid [1998.06.27, 1998.09.12, 1999.05.08; Flying Note 9007: 2001-04]
  • Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet: Stone/Water [1999.05.23; Okkadisk 12032: 2000]
  • Alan Silva, "Kidd" Jordan, William Parker: Emancipation Suite #1 [1999.05.29; Boxholder 23: 2002]
  • David S. Ware: Surrendered [1999.10.20-21; Columbia 63816: 2000]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog Quartet: Aoyama Crows [1999.11.03; FMP 118: 2002.02.03]
  • Matthew Shipp String Trio: Expansion, Power, Release [1999.11.18; Hatology 558: 2001]
  • Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Live in Greenfield, Massachusetts, November 20, 1999 [1999.11.20; Boxholder 8/9: 2000, 2CD]
  • Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Duets & Solos, Volume I [1999.11.21; Boxholder 11: 2000]
  • Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Duets & Solos, Volume II [1999.11.21; Boxholder 15: 2001]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Mayor of Punkville [1999.07.10, 1999.08.14, 1999.09.04, 1999.11.27; Aum Fidelity 15: 2000.06.16, 2CD]
  • Joe Morris: At the Old Office [1999.11; Knitting Factory 272]
  • Matthew Shipp Quartet: Pastoral Composure [2000.01.06; Thirsty Ear 57084: 2000.04.14]
  • William Parker Trio: Painter's Spring [2000.04.02; Thirsty Ear 57088: 2000.06.16]
  • William Parker/Hamid Drake: Piercing the Veil [2000.04.03; Aum Fidelity 17: 2001.06.01]
  • Joe Morris: Singularity [2000.05; Aum Fidelity 18: 2001]
  • William Parker Quartet: O'Neal's Porch [2000.05.26; Aum Fidelity 22: 2002.03.29]
  • Mat Maneri Quartet: Blue Decco [2000.06.10; Thirsty Ear 57092: 2000.09.15]
  • Joe Morris/Mat Maneri: Soul Search [Aum Fidelity 14: 2000.06.16]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet Plus 2: Broken English [2000.07.03-04; Okka Disk 12043: 2002]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet Plus 2: Short Visit to Nowhere [2000.07.03-04; Okka Disk 12044: 2002]
  • Spring Heel Jack: Disappeared [Thirsty Ear 57091: 2000.08.18]
  • Matthew Shipp: Matthew Shipp's New Orbit [2000.09.14; Thirsty Ear 57095: 2001.01.12]
  • The Nommonsemble (Matthew Shipp, Rob Brown, Mat Maneri, Whit Dickey): Life Cycle [2000.09.15; Aum Fidelity 20: 2001]
  • Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio (William Parker, Hamid Drake): Ethnic Stew and Brew [2000.10.11-12; Delmark 528: 2001]
  • Jemeel Moondoc, William Parker, Hamid Drake: New World Pygmies Vol. 2 [2000.11.04-05; Eremite 30/31: 2002, 2CD]
  • Agustí Fernandez & William Parker: 2nd Set [2000.11.13; Radical 47: 2001]
  • Marshall Allen, Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, William Parker, Alan Silva: The All-Star Game [2000.12.01; Eremite 44: 2003]
  • The Cosmosamatics (Sonny Simmons, Michael Marcus, William Parker, Jay Rosen): The Cosmosamatics [2001.02.20; Boxholder 22: 2001.10]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Orchestra: Raincoat in the River [2001.02.23; Eremite 36: 2002, 2CD]
  • Tim Berne: The Shell Game [Thirsty Ear 57099: 2001.02.26]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Corridors & Parallels [2001.02.26-27; Aum Fidelity 19: 2001.10.26]
  • Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Seasoning the Greens [2001.01.03; Boxholder 31: 2002]
  • Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog Trio: Never Too Late but Always Too Early: Dedicated to Peter Kowald [2001.04.10; Eremite 37/38: 2003, 2CD]
  • Andrew Barker, Matthew Shipp, Charles Waters: Apostolic Polyphony [2001.04.05; Drimala 347: 2003]
  • Alan Silva's Celestrial Communications Orchestra: H. Con. Res. 57: Treasure Box [2001.05.24-27; Eremite 39/40/41/42: 2003, 4CD]
  • Rob Brown Trio (William Parker, Warren Smith): Round the Bend [2001.05.30; Bleu Regard 1962: 2002, 2CD]
  • Hamid Drake & Assif Tsahar: Soul Bodies, Vol. 1 [2001.05.30; Ayler 24]
  • Spring Heel Jack: The Blue Series Continuum: Masses [Thirsty Ear 59103: 2001.06.01]
  • Peter Brötzmann/William Parker/Michael Wertmüller: Nothung [2001.06.01; In Tone Music 5: 2002.06.25]
  • William Parker Clarinet Trio: Bob's Pink Cadillac [2001.01, 2001.08.01; Eremite 32/33: 2002, 2CD]
  • Roy Campbell: It's Krunch Time [Thirsty Ear 57107: 2001.08.17]
  • William Parker Quartet: Raining on the Moon [2001.10.02; Thirsty Ear 57088: 2002.06.16]
  • Craig Taborn: Light Made Lighter [Thirsty Ear 57111: 2001.10.19]
  • Matthew Shipp: Songs [2001.11.18; Splasc(h) 840: 2002]
  • William Parker/Joe Morris/Hamid Drake: Eloping With the Sun [2001.12.12; Riti 7: 2003.01.17]
  • Matthew Shipp: Nu Bop [Thirsty Ear 57114: 2002.01.18]
  • Freedomland: Amusement Park [2002.02.10; Rent Control 6: 2002]
  • Organic Grooves: Black Cherry [Aum Fidelity 21: 2002.03.01]
  • DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid: Optometry [2002.03.06; Thirsty Ear 57121: 2002.07.05]
  • Guillermo E. Brown: Soul at the Hands of the Machine [Thirsty Ear 57118: 2002.04.05]
  • William Parker Trio: . . . And William Danced [2002.04.15; Ayler 44: 2002]
  • Jemeel Moondoc Trio: Live at Glenn Miller Café, Vol. 1 [2002.04.15; Ayler 26: 2002]
  • William Parker: Scrapbook [2002.05.00; Thirsty Ear 57133: 2003.06.17]
  • Peter Kowald/William Parker: Victoriaville Tape [Victo 88: 2003]
  • VisionFest: VisionLive [2002.05.23-2002.06.02; Thirsty Ear 57131: 2003.05.20]
  • Maneri Ensemble: Going to Church [2002.06.12; Aum Fidelity 24: 2002.11.01]
  • Matthew Shipp: Equilibrium [2002.06.26; Thirsty Ear 57127: 2003.01.17]
  • Joe Morris: Age of Everything [Riti 4: 2002.07.02]
  • David S. Ware Quartet: Freedom Suite [2002.07.13; Aum Fidelity 23: 2002.11.01]
  • Spring Heel Jack: Amassed [Thirsty Ear 57123: 2002.09.20]
  • Rob Brown Trio (William Parker, Warren Smith): Round the Bend [Bleu Regard 1962: 2002.10]
  • Mat Maneri Quartet: Sustain [Thirsty Ear 57122: 2002.11.01]
  • Antipop Consortium: Antipop Consortium Vs. Matthew Shipp [2002.02.12, 2002.10.01, 2002.11.01; Thirsty Ear 57120: 2003.02.14]
  • The Blue Series Continuum: The Sorcerer Sessions Featuring the Music of Matthew Shipp [2003.01.09; Thirsty Ear 57141: 2003]
  • Whit Dickey & Ahxoloxha Trio: Prophet Moon [Riti 6: 2003.01.17]
  • Spring Heel Jack: Live [2003.01.22, 2003.01.25; Thirsty Ear 57130: 2003.05.20]
  • Daniel Carter/Rueben Radding: Luminescence [Aum Fidelity 25: 2003.02.14]
  • David Budbill, William Parker, Hamid Drake: Songs for a Suffering World [2002.09.17, 2003.01.07, 2003.03.12; Boxholder 44: 2003-04]
  • DJ Spooky: Dubtometry [Thirsty Ear 57128: 2003.03.14]
  • The David S. Ware String Ensemble: Threads [2003.04.28; Thirsty Ear 57137: 2003]
  • The Blue Series Continuum: The GoodandEvil Sessions [Thirsty Ear: 2003.08.19]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Spontaneous [Splasc(h) 855: 2003]
  • DJ Wally: Nothing Stays the Same [Thirsty Ear 57140: 2003]
  • The Blue Series Sampler: The Shape of Jazz to Come [Thirsty Ear 57138]
  • Roscoe Mitchell & the Note Factory: The Bad Guys: Live in Frano "Jazz by the Sea" July 2000 [2000; Around Jazz 963: 2003]

Total records in list above: 259 (89 in house, 8 from other sources)

Reference links:

Steve Joerg write me the following note about Other Dimensions in Music's Now!:

Contrary to what you wrote in this entry, this album was only their second release in 15 years (the total increased to three with 'Time Is Of The Essence'). Part of why its release was (and IMO still is) a major event. The nature of this group is distinct in William's oevre as a leader (co- in this case) in that whenever the group plays, it is indeed fully 100% improvised. No preset framework whatsoever. When I did this record, took them into a real nice studio/great engineer to capture all of the nuances. They burn in the mid-tempo throughout (check William's words in the liner notes regarding this), except for the last track which kicks it up a notch, of sorts. Funny, that one was actually a request from myself to "play a piece with more interweaving horn lines/intensity like when I first saw you at Vision Fest '96" (which of course contradicts my above statement about 'no preset framework whatsoever'. Funny too, in that when I first saw them, the energy in the room was the complete opposite of that day in the studio. . . . as improvisers and human beings of course responding to the energy of the day in which they play. One of my favorite sets of theirs is when they played in my loft, along with a thunderstorm that developed during their set. Yes, they were playing with the thunderstorm. Anyhow, a magical group; experts at manifesting the 'third mind' (or 'fifth mind' in this case); a gift they readily display on this album.