William Parker Draft Notes (2024)

The 2003 Parker/Shipp Consumer Guide

File here. I've been supplementing the discography to reflect what else I now know about (mostly because I've reviewed). The intro text there turns out not to be very useful here.

In 1984, "the Parkers helped put together the Sound Unity Festival, a multi-arts celebration that foreshadowed the Vision Fest, first in 1984 and again in '86. In 1994, Nicholson Parker spearheaded the formation of the Improvisers Collective, which held weekly shows that always began with presentations and performances, and ended as group improvisations. She tried to lay down a communal approach to the collective's management, but found herself doing almost all the work. It folded after two years, and in 1996 the Parkers refocused onstarting a single annual event. The first Vision Fest was held that year, and it's run consistently ever since."

Previous winners of Vision Festival Lifetime Achievement Awards: Before 2005, Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to several musicians who had died (only one I've found reference to are: Jimmy Lyons, Frank Wright). Note: AAJ (All About Jazz), AMN (Avant Music News), BV (Brooklyn Vegan), FJC (Free Jazz Collective).

  • 2005 (10th anniversary, Special Lifetime Recognition Award): Fred Anderson: (AAJ) -- this seems (see Gottschalk below) to have been the first such award, with Sam Rivers next).
  • 2006: Sam Rivers: Darcy James Argue
  • 2007: Bill Dixon: AAJ
  • 2008: Kidd Jordan: AAJ
  • 2009: Marshall Allen: AAJ; AMN
  • 2010: Muhal Richard Abrams: AAJ
  • 2011: Peter Brötzmann: AAJ
  • 2012: Joe McPhee: AAJ; AMN
  • 2013: Milford Graves: AMN; AMN
  • 2014: Charles Gayle: NPR
  • 2015: No choice: "This year AFA celebrates all VISION artists, in particular those iconic NY artists whose creative voices have helped build our reputation as the world's premier FreeJazz Festival": BV
  • 2016: Henry Grimes: AMN; FJC
  • 2017: Cooper-Moore: AAJ; AMN; FJC
  • 2018: Dave Burrell: AAJ
  • 2019: Andrew Cyrille: AAJ
  • 2020: Amina Claudine Myers: X
  • 2021: Amina Claudine Myers: BV
  • 2022: Wadada Leo Smith: AMN; Wadada Leo Smith; or Oliver Lake: JazzTrail
  • 2023: Joëlle Léandre: MVD; Live Music Project
  • 2024: William Parker: Roulette; AMN

Other "awards and honors of note" (per Ken Franckling in 2019): NEA Jazz Masters; Grammy Awards; Latin Grammys; JJA Awards (Lifetime Achievement in Jazz); Monk Competition; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Sassy Awards; Ella Awards; BMI Composers Workshop; BNY Mellon Jazz Living Legacy; Doris Duke Awards; Kennedy Center Honors; Ben Franklin Medal.

Albums recorded at Vision Festival:

  • 2023: Joëlle Léandre: Lifetime Rebel: Joëlle Léandre's Lifetime Achievement Award, Vision Festival 2023 (RogueArt, 4CD)

List of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Artists:

    2015: Muhal Richard Abrams, Darcy James Argue, Steve Coleman, Okkyung Lee + 6 others AMN

Articles on Parker and/or Vision Festival: Obviously, very partial list.


Frank Lowe: Black Beings (1973, ESP-Disk -08) The short middle piece is solo tenor sax, thoughtful and intriguing; the two long pieces sandwiched around the solo are screamers, with Joseph Jarman on second noisemaker, wailing and shrieking spastically around Lowe's meatier riffs. [4]

Frank Lowe: The Loweski (1973, ESP-Disk -12) A previously unreleased five-part jam recorded during the sessions that yielded the tenor saxophonist's debut, Black Beings. Joseph Jarman's soprano and alto provide contrasting variations in scratch and screech, while Wizard Raymond Lee Cheng's violin opens up space and offers some relief. A young bassist in one of his first recordings, William Parker, goes both ways. [6]

Melodic Art-Tet (1974, NoBusiness -13) Quartet, originally formed in 1970 by saxophonist Charles Brackeen and three members of Sun Ra's entourage: Ahmed Abdullah (trumpet), Ronnie Boykins (bass), and Roger Blank (drums). They played in lofts, never released an album, but cut this at WKCR in 1974, with a very young William Parker taking over the bass slot, and Tony Waters on percussion. Four pieces (17, 20, 30, 12 minutes), free with funk overtones, the reeds -- flute and soprano as well as tenor sax -- not as clear as you'd like, but Abdullah turns into a force of nature, and the second half is so ship-shape you could sail to Saturn. [9]

Alan Brauman: Live in New York City: February 8, 1975 (1975 [2022], Valley of Search): Saxophonist, aka Alan Michael or Alan Michael Braufman, recorded a 1975 album, Valley of Search, that he reissued to much acclaim in 2018, followed up by a new album, The Fire Still Burns, and reissue of some early tapes, like this one, a WBAI airshot with Cooper-Moore (piano), William Parker (bass), John Clark (French horn), Jim Schapperowe (drums), and Ralph Williams (percussion). B+(***) [r]

The Music Ensemble (1974-75, Roratorio -01) An early group for William Parker, with Roger Baird (percussion), Billy Bang (violin), Malik Baraka (trumpet), Daniel Carter (tenor/alto sax), and Herb Kahn (bass); the first cut has violin with percussion, rather pretty; the second uses trumpet and possibly alto sax, again with a sort of glass-tinkly percussion; hard to judge. [5]

Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble: Black Man's Blues/New York Collage (1977-78, NoBusiness 2CD -11) The late, great violinist's first two albums -- the first so obscure I missed it when I assembled a discography for my 2005 Voice piece on Bang. A quartet for the first record, with Bilal Abdur Rahman on tenor and soprano sax, William Parker on bass, and Rashid Bakr on drums. Rahman, an old friend of Bang's, picked up Islam in prison and recorded reluctantly but more often than not his cutting and slashing is terrific here. Both albums are hit and miss, with bits of spoken word spouting political critique -- "when the poor steal, it's called looting; when the rich steal, it's called profit" is one turn of phrase. Second album adds Henry Warner on alto sax and Khuwana Fuller on congas -- Warner's another player who shows up on rare occasions but always makes a big impression. Way back when I would probably have hedged my grade, seeing each album as promising but half-baked, but now they're indisputable pieces of history -- and not just because Bang and Parker went on to have brilliant careers. Also note that the label in Lithuania that rescued them cared enough to provide a 36-page booklet on the era and this remarkable music. [9]

Peter Kuhn: No Coming, No Going: The Music of Peter Kuhn, 1978-1979 (1978-79, NoBusiness -2CD -16) Plays clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor sax. Another reissue from the New York "loft scene" years, when avant-jazz went underground, that period after most US jazz labels folded or slunk into fusion and before European labels like Hat and Soul Note picked up the slack (Kuhn, by the way, has 1981-82 albums on both, but little after that). First disc is from same group that recorded Arthur Williams' Forgiveness Suite -- Williams and Toshinori Kondo on trumpet, William Parker on bass, and Denis Charles on drums -- is often bracing, a solid effort. Second disc is just Kuhn with Charles, a better showcase for each. Comes with a substantial booklet helping us recover valuable history. [9]

Jemeel Moondoc: Muntu Recordings (1975-79 [2009], NoBusiness, 3CD): Alto saxophonist, originally from Chicago, studied under Cecil Taylor in Wisconsin, moved to New York where he joined the flourishing "loft scene." This collects his two Muntu albums -- with William Parker (bass), Rashid Bakr (drums), Arthur Williams or Roy Campbell (trumpet), and Mark Hennen (piano, first album only) -- and adds an earlier live trio piece (called "Muntu": runs 36:35). Some fine work here, deep and expressive. Box comes with a 115 pp. booklet, which I haven't seen. B+(***) [bc]

William Parker: Through Acceptance of the Mystery Peace (1974-79, Eremite -03) These are early recordings, mostly collected and released on Parker's own Centering Records label in 1981. The new edition adds a fifth piece and expands "Desert Flower" to full length (19:42). "Desert Flower" is rich with brass, with a superb solo by Daniel Carter. The previously unreleased title piece is built on two violins, cello, and flute, without Parker playing. This is probably the toughest piece on the album, the violins piercing and the cello not quite enough bottom. "Rattles and Bells and the Light of the Sun" features solos by Charles Brackeen and Jemeel Moondoc. "Commitment" is built simply around Parker's bass, with Arthur Williams on trumpet and John Hagen on tenor sax, each taking solos before Parker. The solos are excellent: Williams taking a precise, almost pointilistic approach, while Hagen is more in the Coltrane/Gayle mode. Good piece, although at 18:36 it starts to lose interest. "Face Still Hands Folded" finds Parker thoughtfully reciting over a pair of violins, including Billy Bang. [+]

Arthur Williams: Forgiveness Suite (1979, NoBusiness -16) One from the vaults of New York's "loft era," a trumpet player who shows up in various groups with William Parker, Jemeel Moondoc, and Frank Lowe, but this may be the only item under his name. Quintet with a second trumpet (Toshinori Kondo), sax (Peter Kuhn), bass (Parker), and drums (Denis Charles). A little somber, but a welcome find. [7]

Peter Kuhn Quartet: The Kill (1981, Soul Note) Clarinetist (B flat, bass), the last of several albums Kuhn recorded before his long hiatus (ended in 2015), with Wayne Horvitz (piano, synthesizer), William Parker (bass), and Denis Charles (drums). Four pieces, the 22:59 title cut filling the second side, a tour de force. [9]

Jemeel Moondoc Sextet: Konstanze's Delight (1981 [1983], Soul Note): With Roy Campbell (trumpet), Khan Jamal (vibes), William Parker (bass), Dennis Charles (drums), and Ellen Christi (voice). The voice blends in with the instruments, but I always find that an iffy proposition. B+(**)

Cecil Taylor Unit: The Eighth (1981, Hatology -06) This particular group, with Jimmy Lyons' alto sax contending with the leader's explosive piano, dates from their landmark 1965 Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come and extends past Lyons' death in 1986 with Carlos Ward, not that Lyons was really replaceable, but is close to peak form here, with Rashid Bakr on drums and William Parker on bass. [9]

Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Wee Sneezawee (1983 [1984], Black Saint): Alto saxophonist, best known for his work with Cecil Taylor, in a quintet with Raphe Malik (trumpet), Karen Borca (bassoon), William Parker (bass), and Paul Murphy (drums). Exciting runs from all three horns, but especially Lyons, and you do notice how great the bassist is. A-

Commitment: The Complete Recordings 1981/1983 (NoBusiness 2CD -10) One of those records that must have seemed interesting but unfocused at the time sounds prophetic now, especially padded out to two-disc length with a rousing live set. Will Connell's flutes and reeds don't so much lead as dodge Jason Kao Hwang's razor-sharp violin, amplified by William Parker's bass and prodded along by Zen Matsuura's drums. [9]

Billy Bang Sextet: The Fire From Within (1984, Soul Note -85) Rhapsody files this under trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, who dominates the early going, but the violin-guitar-bass keep it all in sync and racing along, as does Thurman Barker's marimba on top of Zen Matsuura's drums. [9]

Cecil Taylor: Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants) (1984, Soul Note) [5]

Brötzmann Clarinet Project: Berlin Djungle (1984, Atavistic -04) Machine Gun with silencers, the clarinets' softer tones muffle the usual squall, making it easier to parse the music. [+]

Raphe Malik Quartet: Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club (1984, Boxholder -04) Historically interesting as Malik's only recording between 1979, when he left Cecil Taylor's group, and his return in the '90s. Also because he shares the spotlight with Frank Wright, a rarely heard tenor saxophonist from the avant '60s. Also because this is one of the earliest recordings where William Parker really flashes his bass. A rare case where the avant-garde gets down and dirty. So much fun that Wright took to singing. So much fun you won't mind that he sucks. [9]

Roy Campbell/William Parker/Zen Matsuura: Visitation of Spirits: The Pyramid Trio Live, 1985 (1985 [2023], NoBusiness): Trumpet player (1952-2014), played in various William Parker projects, including Other Dimensions in Music, and later had the Nu Band, with Mark Whitecage. This was an early version of his trio, which did three 1994-2001 studio albums. A bit spotty at first, but terrific when they get going. A- [cd]

Bill Dixon: Thoughts (1985, Soul Note -87) A rather murky production for a relatively large production -- Marco Eineidi on alto sax, John Buckingham on tuba, Lawrence Cook on drums, and three great bassists -- Mario Pavone, William Parker, and Peter Kowald; Dixon's trumpet is as scrawny as ever, and while no one doubts that a lot of thought went into it, there is very little here to pique your interest. [4]

Jemeel Moondoc Quintet: Nostalgia in Times Square (1985 [1986], Soul Note): Alto saxophonist (1946-2021), his group Muntu made a splash in the late-1970s New York avant-garde, retains bassist William Parker here, joined by Rahn Burton (piano), Bern Nix (guitar), and Dennis Charles (drums). Title piece from Mingus. The others are credited to Moondoc, but "In Walked Monk" sounds kind of familiar (as in Monk's "In Walked Bud"), and "Dance of the Clowns" has at least a whiff of Mingus. [r] [8]

Cecil Taylor: Olu Iwa (1986, Soul Note) [9]

Cecil Taylor Unit: Live in Bologna (1987 [1988], Leo): Avant-pianist, group was his quintet (more or less, long defined by saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, who died in 1986, leaving a large gap for Carlos Ward to try to fill. Also with Leroy Jenkins (violin), William Parker (bass), and Thurman Baker (drums/marimba). Ward lurks until the rhythm drives him to deliver. [r] [9]

The Cecil Taylor Unit: Live in Vienna (1987 [1988], Leo): Same group, recorded four days later, again onen long piece, a bit longer at 71:21, but hacked up for the original 2-LP. While I understand that every performance is different, that doesn't make them all cost-effective, even at this level. [r] [8]

Cecil Taylor: Tzotzil Mummers Tzotzil (1987 [1988], Leo): The same group a week later in Paris, last stop on the tour, sandwiched between some poetry recorded a few days later in London. I find the poetry exceptionally hard to follow. [sp] [6]

William Parker: Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976-1987 (1976-87, No Business 6CD -12) The great bassist of my generation -- he turned sixty back in January -- Parker spent most of the 1980s piling up side credits, which ran close to 300 last time I counted, probably more like 400 now. His own discography only picks up around 1993, with 1995's Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy a breakthrough, and 1998's The Peach Orchard a triumph. But we now know that he experimented widely from 1974 on -- the 2003 release of Through Acceptance of the Mystery Peace picked up bits from 1974-79 -- and he released limited runs on his own Centering label. The Lithuanian label NoBusiness collected his 1980-83 recordings with Jason Kao Hwang as Commitment in 2010 (cf. The Complete Recordings 1981/1983), and now they've gone much further with this lavish, lovely box set. The first three discs feature intimate groups with saxophonists Daniel Carter, David S. Ware, and Charles Gayle -- the latter some of the finest free sax blowing I've heard -- followed by a short (13:51) song set with vocalists Ellen Christi and Lisa Sokolov. The last three discs move into larger groups, ranging from the atmospheric dance accompaniment to the Big Moon Ensemble, one of the most explosive free big bands I've heard. [9]

William Hooker Quartet: Lifeline (1988, Silkheart -89): Drummer, the first track a 50-minute set at the R.A.W. Jazz Festival (stands for Real Art Ways), with two alto saxophonists (Alan Michael and Claude Lawrence) plus William Parker on bass; the remaining 18:02 a different quartet with tenor sax (Charles Compo), trombone, and piano. Former includes some spoken word, with the saxes under Ornette's spell. Latter tracks have more muscle, and are better for it. [6]

David S. Ware Trio: Passage to Music (1988, Silkheart): Tenor saxophone great, started in the 1970s but didn't really take off until he organized this group, with William Parker (bass) and Marc Edwards (drums), soon to be a quartet with the addition of pianist Matthew Shipp. Already quite impressive. [r] [8]

Cecil Taylor European Orchestra: Alms/Tiergarten (Spree) (1988, FMP 2CD) Two disc-long pieces. Taylor kept his American bassist (William Parker, who wouldn't?), but doubled up on bass with Peter Kowald (given the opportunity, who wouldn't?). The band is otherwise full of top drawer European avant-gardists, including: Enrico Rava, Tomasz Stanko, Peter Brotzmann, Hans Koch, Evan Parker, Louis Sclavis, Gunter Hampel, and Han Bennink. The first piece, "Involution/Evolution," starts out moderately, and the piece unfolds without the usual Taylor chase. Like most avant big bands, the pleasures are in the details: a little snatch of vibes, a riff of trumpets, a little stretch of incipient melody. Some of the players are distinctive: Parker's circular breathing is unmistakable, and the sound of horses being slaughtered (not one I'm partisan to) is very likely Brotzmann's doing. And of course there's the piano player: even when he's laying back and enjoying the show Taylor's manages to throw in the occasional pounding chord, and his abstract rhythms are remarkable when counterposed against the dull roar of backing trombone. The second piece is more of the same. There's a nice stretch around 28-minutes in where a melody starts to swell over the trombones, but that plays itself out to not much effect. These big band things are always complicated, messy, frustrating -- even when there are lots of wonderful details. [5]

Daniel Carter/William Parker/Roy S. Campbell Jr./Rashid Bakr: Other Dimensions in Music (1989 [1995], Silkheart): Pretty clearly intended as a group from the start, and should be credited as such for four later albums up to 2011 (Campbell died in 2014), but the names are spread out across the top of the cover: sax (alto and tenor, also flute and trumpet), bass, trumpet (flugelhorn, recorder), drums. Four long pieces (15:27-22:58), exploring without discovering much. [6]

Cecil Taylor: Looking (Berlin Version): The Feel Trio (1989, FMP -90) [9]

Cecil Taylor/William Parker/Tony Oxley: Celebrated Blazons: The Feel Trio (1990, FMP -93) I count 18 records for Taylor on FMP from 1988-91, an intense outpouring that dominates the later half of is career; several were Feel Trios, with longtime bassist Parker shoring up spectacular fireworks from the others -- a rare record where the drummer gets in even better licks than Taylor. [9]

Matthew Shipp: Circular Temple (1990, Infinite Zero) A trio with bass and drums, working their way through four movements that can only be described as difficult (as in Cecil Taylor difficult). The bass is, of course, the brilliant William Parker; drums by Whit Dickey. Evidently Shipp has always leaned on heavy chords. The Penguin Guide notes a connection to Andrew Hill as well as Taylor. Very striking work by all three hands. [+]

David S. Ware Quartet: Great Bliss Volume 1 (1990, Silkheart -91): Pictured on cover playing flute, which he does on 7/8 tracks, more than tenor sax (2), saxello (3), or stritch (1). His quartet, which first recorded in 1988, features Matthew Shipp (piano) and William Parker (bass), with Marc Edwards the drummer. Lots of potential here, at least on the tenor sax tracks, where Ware is a commanding presence, and Shipp's comp rumble is already unique. [7]

David S. Ware Quartet: Great Bliss Volume 2 (1990, Silkheart -94): Flute tracks down to two, vs. saxello (1), stritch (2), and tenor sax (3). [7]

Roy Campbell: New Kingdom (1991, Delmark -92) Pyramid Trio (Campbell-Parker-Matsuura) for three cuts, some extra players for the rest. In general, the smaller group works better; in other words, extra vibes and alto sax/flute don't help much, when the point is to tune in on Campbell's trumpet. (Although Zane Massey's sax on "Peace" does sound pretty good, and Bryan Carrott's vibes aren't exactly in the way.) [+]

Charles Gayle: Touchin' on Trane (1991, FMP -93) 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. [9]

Charles Gayle/Milford Graves/William Parker: WEBO (1991 [2024], Black Editions Archive): Tenor sax, drums, bass, a major new find in the late drummer's archives, running just over 2 hours (2-CD, 3-LP). Gayle (1939-2023) was like the truest heir of Albert Ayler, pushed to extremes I found very difficult to take when I first ran into him, so my grades are scattered, and likely in need of revision -- e.g., I still have Repent (1992) as a B, but at least get Touchin' on Trane at A-. This is in the same ballpark, but perhaps better mixed to bring out the truly amazing bass and percussion. A- [sp]

David S. Ware: Flight of I (1991, Columbia/DIW -92) [9]

Kali Z. Fasteau: Prophecy (1990-92, Flying Note -11) World traveler, avant-garde gadfly, widow of a clarinet player connected to Coltrane's late work, plays a dozen odd instruments -- sheng, ney, and mizmar are conspicuous here -- vigorously if not always expertly, and sings more than a little -- exuberantly if not all that listenably, with a cast of eight, most notably bassist William Parker. [5]

Kali Z. Fasteau/William Parker/Cindy Blackman: An Alternative Universe (1991-92, Flying Note -11) From the same period as Prophecy, but Fasteau limits herself to rotating pieces on three instruments (cello, soprano sax, electric piano, with no vocals); the cello emerges stealthily from Parker's bass, the soprano squawks wild and free, and the piano reduced to toy percussion, something the others can adds twists to. [7]

David S. Ware: Third Ear Recitation (1992, DIW -93) Although they don't get billing, this is a Quartet album, with William Parker, Matthew Shipp, and Whit Dickey. The second cut is Sonny Rollins' "East Broadway Run Down" -- an early '60s piece that was meant to give Coltrane and Dolphy a run for their money -- and Shipp has an interesting piano interlude: one hesitates to call it a solo because it is really just a series of rhythmic figures, which continues in the background when Ware returns to finish the piece off. Ware's "The Chase" starts out remarkably, before it evolves back into a Ware blowfest. Throughout, Ware's saxophone is bracing. On the cover he stands on a promontory (looks a bit like Bear Mountain) and blows out into the wilderness. For much of this album the wilderness has to take notice: Ware's playing is rarely less than ferocious. But the closing "Autumn Leaves" has an intriguing quiet spot, and Ware's reassertion of the melody is both forceful and articulate. There's a lot going on here, especially with Shipp, and I'm nowhere near close to having it figured out. [9]

Bill Dixon: Vade Mecum (1993, Soul Note -94) [5]

Bill Dixon: Vade Mecum II (1993, Soul Note -96) [5]

Charles Gayle Quartet: Vol. 1: Translations (1993 [1994], Silkheart): With two bassists -- William Parker (also cello and half-size violin) and Vattel Cherry (also kalimba and bells) -- and drums (Michael Wimbley), with Gayle credited with bass clarinet and viola in addition to tenor sax. I'm not sure when Gayle developed his signature interest in scratchy strings, but it's the dominant motif here. While his sax struggles mightly against that backdrop, it rarely breaks out. [6]

Charles Gayle: Consecration (1993, Black Saint) [5]

Charles Gayle Quartet: More Live at the Knitting Factory: February, 1993 (1993, Knitting Factory Works, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist from Buffalo, also plays bass clarinet and violin here (and piano, quite impressively, elsewhere). In a nutshell, he's the second coming of Albert Ayler, but after a rocky start has proven much more durable. Quartet with two bassists (Vattel Cherry and William Parker, the latter also on cello and violin) and drums (Marc Edwards on the first disc, Michael Wimberly on the second -- the recording spans three dates). B+(***) [r]

Matthew Shipp Trio: Prism (1993, Hatology -00) Avant-piano trio with William Parker (bass) and Whit Dickey (drums), the rhythm section to David S. Ware's early quartet. Shipp's favorite move is the deep rumble, and this threatens to roar all over you. Much of the roar comes from the bass and drums, reinforcing the idea. [7]

Matthew Shipp Duo With William Parker: Zo (1993, Thirsty Ear -97) This may be the best example I've heard of Shipp in pure avant-garde mode -- the piano is much more rhythmic than most of his early work, and he's continuously engaged with Parker, who is, well, little short of awesome. Can't say that I get enough of this "Summertime" to make my mix tape, but the three "Zo" pieces are very engaging. [9]

William Parker: In Order to Survive (1993 [1995], Black Saint): Bassist, used this album title for a group name later in the 1990s, and again for a 2019 live album, signifying a quintet with Lewis Barnes (trumpet), Rob Brown (alto sax), Cooper-Moore (piano), and a drummer (Denis Charles plays on 3 cuts here, Jackson Krall on the 4th). This particular album also has Grachan Moncur III on trombone. The dazzling opener runs 38:47, with three more pieces bringing the total to 72:03. A-

Roy Campbell Pyramid: Communion (1994, Silkheart): Avant-trumpet player, from Los Angeles, a leader of Other Dimensions in Music and the Nu Band until his death in 2014, recorded three albums with his Pyramid Trio -- this is the first -- with William Parker on bass and various drummers (Reggie Nicholson here). [7]

Marco Eneidi Quintet: Final Disconnect Notice (1994, Botticelli): Alto sax, second horn is Karen Borca's bassoon, an excellent pairing, especially when they get dicey, backed by two bassists (Wilber Morris and William Parker, who also plays some cello) and drums (Jackson Krall). B+(***) [yt]

Charles Gayle with Sunny Murray & William Parker: Kingdom Come (1994, Knitting Factory) Gayle's piano solos reveal him to be a Cecil Taylor wannabe. Gayle returns to tenor sax for "Lord Lord," an all-time ugly, at least up to the long drum solo. More piano. More sax. It's all tough sledding. [4]

David S. Ware Quartet: Cryptology (1994 [1995], Homestead): The one Quartet album that slipped past me, with Matthew Shipp (piano), William Parker (bass), and Whit Dickey (drums), as intense as any in a very remarkable series. This seems to have been where Steven Joerg entered the picture, before his AUM Fidelity label provided Ware and Parker a long-term home. [yt] [9]

William Parker: Testimony (1994, Zero In -95) Weighing in over 78 minutes, this is bound to be too long -- I mean, the occasional bass solo can be nice, but anything approaching 10 minutes is likely to challenge our attention spans, and anything in excess of an hour is bound to be ridiculous. But here we go: "Sonic Animation" (22:58, mostly arco, it actually has a sort of hypnotic effect, gently sawing back and forth around an inscrutable melody; so far, so good); "Testimony" (11:22, dedicated to Beb Guerin, an unfamiliar French bassist who has worked with Dave Burrell, Grachan Moncur III, Sonny Sharrock, Archie Shepp, Clifford Thornton; carefully picked out, with some clicks for percussive contrast; the piece is well settled in the lower register, thoughtful, vibrant); "Light #3" (3:51, by contrast this piece is very high-pitched, so much so that the instrument can generate very little volume); "Dedication" (15:38, "for Charles Clark -- 1945-1969; for Albert Stinson -- 1945-1969"; again, mostly bowed, highly concentrated and thoughtful; toward the end this runs through several series of swaying, sawing sequences); "The 2nd Set" (24:09; gee, that slipped by fast). Not what I'd call difficult at all -- eminently listenable, often interesting, occasionally fascinating. [+]

Matthew Shipp Quartet: Critical Mass (1994, 213 CD) With Parker, Dickey, and Mat Maneri, this is a rather abstract, disjointed work, themed to build a communal temple around a mass. Maneri's contribution is perhaps the most interesting aspect, in effect taking the lead role that a horn would normally assume. Doesn't seem to amount to much. [5]

Carlos Ward: Live at the Bug & Other Sweets (1994, Peull Music -95) The "Live at the Bug" section is pretty solid free jazz: a trio, with Pheeroan Aklaff and William Parker. The "other sweets" include some film music, some synth sketches, and a few sketchy vocal pieces, none of which does much for me. [4]

David S. Ware: Earthquation (1994, DIW) [+]

Zusaan Kali Fasteau: Sensual Hearing (1995, Flying Note -97) The fourth piece here, "Ebb and Flow," is basically a duet for bass (William Parker) and violin (Somalia Richards), lovely. One called "Lament to Wake the World" features Fasteau singing, or perhaps vocalizing is more accurate -- a deep-throated warble followed by some high notes. While most of these influences are Asian, "Kumba Mela" sounds African, with drums and chants, djembe and flutes, in barely contained chaos, and the audience participation only adds to the effect. [+]

Charles Gayle Quartet: Daily Bread (1995, Black Saint -98) The Quartet consists of Gayle (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, viola on two cuts, and piano on two other cuts), William Parker (cello, piano on three cuts), Wilber Morris (bass), and Michael Wimberly (drums, violin on two cuts). The strings come together on the second cut, "Our Sins," an interesting setup for string quartet. Third cuts starts out with a Gayle piano solo, which runs for the 7:10 of the piece. The fourth cut starts with what sounds like bass clarinet, but it quickly breaks into runs that I've never heard before on that instrument. And here, as elsewhere on this disc, Gayle's in impresive form. One of his more varied and impressive recordings. [+]

William Parker: Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy (1995, Homestead -96) Top of front cover, beside "William Parker", has the words "In Order to Survive." Explains inside: "The music on this CD is the third part of a sound trilogy. The first part 'In Order to Survive' is music for sextet. The second part 'Testimony' is music for solo bass. They all speak about embracing and making a commitment to life in its highest partial. . . . It is through poetry and vision that life is discovered; discovered, and then altered. The premise was to start a human revolution. To bring dreams closer to present day reality. The music called Jazz is less than 100 years old; too young to repeat itself. We as a society have only progressed technically during these years. There is a lack of respect for life that is called style. Driven by greed, selfishness, and arrogance. We still practice capitalism, imperialism, racism, and sexism. These concepts are the main reasons for the deterioration of America. What has trickled down is mass ignorance, lack of concern and severe blindness mixed with inflated egos. There is a total loss of memory as to how America was born. That is, by the genocide of the Native Americans. How can we ever make that one right?" Quartet: Parker (bass), Susie Ibarra (drums), Rob Brown (alto sax), Cooper Moore (piano). I still have a lot more Parker to get to, but this relatively early set seems masterful to me. [9]

Matthew Shipp Quartet: The Flow of X (1995, Thirsty Ear -97) Again, with Parker, Dickey and Maneri. Shipp has a little essay on "Boxing and Jazz," which reads like semiotics ("a system of symbols that generates the language of each"). I suspect, however, that there is a fundamental difference, which is that boxing is more constrained to one specific goal (physical domination of an opponent), whereas improvisation can go many ways in addition to many routes. Also, of course, boxing is more prone to disruption -- an opponent may all of a sudden reroute you. Considering that aleatory is too chin up for my taste. As for the music, it gets better when they pick up the pace, following a rhythm rather than just plotting out symbols. This only happens a couple of times, on the third cut ("Flow of Y"), where Parker shows some real swing, and on the finale, which is what NRG is meant to be. Elsewhere there are good spots for all (and I'm getting to like Dickey quite a bit), but it's still pretty symbolic. [+]

David S. Ware: Dao (1995, Homestead -96) [+]

David S. Ware Quartet: Oblations and Blessings (1995 [1996], Silkheart): Drummer -- the only position that changed over the Quartet's 15-year run -- now Whit Dickey, no doubt brought in by pianist Matthew Shipp, whose trios started with and still feature Dickey. Ware has settled on tenor sax. [8]

Peter Brötzmann: Sprawl (1996 [1997], Trost): Discogs has artist name as Sprawl, based on no other print on the cover, but it's a one-shot quintet, and the Bandcamp page credits the German saxophonist, over Alex Buess (reeds/electronics), Stephen Wittwer (guitar), William Parker (bass), and Michael Wertmüller (drums). Brötzmann just died at 82, leaving a huge body of work, and this one was singled out by fans. I've often had trouble when he simply blasted away, but this one conveys its power through subtler means. A- [bc]

Rob Brown Trio (With William Parker and Jackson Krall): High Wire (1993, Soul Note -96) Brown plays alto saxophone, with beautiful tone on his one little ballad here, and forceful dynamics on the real high wire avant-garde shit. I've run across him a couple of times before in Parker's In Order to Survive band, which has produced a couple of amazing albums. This is his first album in his own name, working his own compositions. Very solid work. [+]

Collective 4tet: Orca (1996 [1997], Leo Lab): Originally Heinz Geisser (drums), Mark Hennen (piano), William Parker (bass), and Michael Moss (reeds), for two albums 1992-93, before Moss was replaced by Jeff Hoyer (trombone), and they went on to record six more albums for Leo 1996-2009. Free jazz with chamber music intimacy. Several spots got me thinking this might be great, only to slip back into their framework. B+(***) [r]

Ivo Perelman/Marilyn Crispell/Gerry Hemingway/William Parker: En Adir: Traditional Jewish Songs (1996, Music & Arts -97) The songs may predate credits, but nothing here makes the first concession to klezmer. The Brazilian tenor saxophonist, relatively early in his career, claims the arranging credits, and indeed throws out a bit of melody before bouncing off the changes into the avant stratosphere, and the rhythm section does it all. [9]

The Ivo Perelman Quartet: Sound Hierarchy (1996 [1997], Muisic & Arts): Brazilian tenor saxophonist, debut 1989, had released four albums through 1995, three more in 1996, then nine in 1997, of which this one looks most impressive on paper: Marilyn Crispell (piano), William Parker (bass), Gerry Hemingway (drums). Flexes some muscle, but not all that interesting. B+(*) [sp]

Matthew Shipp String Trio: By the Law of Music (1996, Hatology -02) I guess he can count piano among the strings -- the other two being Mat Maneri's violin and William Parker's bass. [8]

David S. Ware: Godspelized (1996, DIW -97) [9]

Ivo Perelman: Sad Life (1996, Leo Lab) [9]

Ivo Perelman/Marilyn Crispell/Gerry Hemingway/William Parker: En Adir: Traditional Jewish Songs (1996, Music & Arts -97) The songs may predate credits, but nothing here makes the first concession to klezmer. The Brazilian tenor saxophonist, relatively early in his career, claims the arranging credits, and indeed throws out a bit of melody before bouncing off the changes into the avant stratosphere, and the rhythm section does it all. [9]

Collective 4tet: Live at Crescent (1997, Leo Lab): After a 1993 debut, trombonist Jeff Hoyer joined Mark Hennen (piano), William Parker (bass), and Swiss percussionist Heinz Geisser for six 1996-2009 albums, credits alphabetical by last name. Inside music, demanding, intriguing, difficult but rarely abrasive. The club was in Belfast, but could have been anywhere. B+(**) [r]

Frode Gjerstad Trio: Remember to Forget (1997 [1998], Circulasione Totale): Norwegian alto saxophonist, started with the group Detail in 1982, has by now a large discography of his own, and more side credits. Recorded this at Cafe String, Stavanger, when William Parker and Hamid Drake were visiting. B+(***) [bc]

Other Dimensions in Music Special Quintet w/Matthew Shipp: Time Is of the Essence Is Beyond Time (1997, AUM Fidelity -99) William Parker group, predecessor to his Quartet, with two horns -- Roy Campbell trumpet, Daniel Carter sax -- spinning free, Rashid Bakr on drums; normally pianoless, but here add Matthew Shipp, knocking them around a bit rather than pulling them together. [5]

Other Dimensions in Music: Now! (1997, AUM Fidelity -98) Quartet of Roy Campbell (trumpet), Daniel Carter (sax, flute, trumpet), William Parker (bass), Rashid Bakr (drums). Starts with a 33:00 piece, "For the Glass Tear/After Evening's Orange," which takes its own sweet time to skip around the edges of collaboration, starting with a lot of Roy Campbell trumpet and winding down with a little too much Daniel Carter flute. The next piece is called "Tears for the Boy Wonder (For Winston Marsalis)" -- starts with a bass solo, then slowly adds trumpet and sax. The following pieces rather slip by, but the finale, "Steve's Festive Visions Revisited" wakes everyone back up. [5]

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Sunrise in the Tone World (1997, AUM Fidelity -2CD) This is a big group: the back cover lists 26 musicians plus Parker. Still, the first track ("Sunrise in the Tone World") sails through elegantly, with light instrumental interplay and voices. The second piece, "The Bluest J," seems more typical of such large avant-garde groupings, with interesting sounds competing against a lot of backdrop. Long, too (26:05). All these pieces have a lot of interesting shit going on, and given the large ensemble it's inevitable that the horns dominate. On "Mayan Space Station" the trombones stand out. All in all, the first side holds together pretty well. However, the 40:10 opener on the second disc, "Huey Sees Light Through a Leaf," does wander quite a bit, threatening to decompose into the usual avant void, and the second disc never quite rights itself. Maybe they got a little tired? [5]

William Parker: Lifting the Sanctions (1997, No More -98) Solo albums in jazz are rare -- excluding piano, very rare. Solo bass albums are among the rarest: I doubt that there are more than a couple dozen anywhere. This is Parker's second, lighter and more varied than 1994's Testimony, which is more intense. Useful for students, especially given the liner notes. Parker prefers the bow for his solo work, but I find his plucked "Macchu Picchu" to be the most gratifying piece here. [+]

Matthew Shipp: The Multiplication Table (1998, Hatology) Trio, with Parker and Susie Ibarra on drums. In some ways this is the best (or anyway the first) good showcase for Shipp's style, in part because piano trios are rather conventional and in part because Shipp tackles two Ellington pieces which, as is often the case with avant jazz, helps by providing a familiar anchor for the improvisations. Again, Shipp relies mostly on the sharp, percussive chords that are his trademark. Not quite a breakthrough, but a very strong record. [9]

Assif Tsahar Trio: Ein Sof (1997, Silkheart): Tenor saxophonist, born in Israel, moved to New York in 1990. Seems to be his second album (after Shekhina in 1996, on Eremite), a trio with William Parker (bass) and Susie Ibarra (drums). Terrific energy out of the gate, but does wear you down a bit. [8]

David S. Ware: Go See the World(1997, Columbia -98) [9]

Agustí Fernández Trio With William Parker & Susie Ibarra: One Night at the Joan Miró Foundation: July 16th, 1998 (1998, Fundacja Sluchaj -19) Pianist, from Barcelona, where this was recorded. Discography starts around 1986, seems especially inspired here playing with Cecil Taylor's bassist, who's worth focusing on. [9]

Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio: Ancestral Homeland (1998, No More) The drummer here is Zen Matsuura, who deft touch on exotic rhythms recalls Kahil El'Zabar. With Parker on bass, this is a rhythm section that can steal the show, but they tend to vanish on cuts like "The Positive Path," which Campbell takes deliberately. But the pace picks up with two Parker compositions, and the final cuts really come together. Campbell can play bop and can play free, but "Brother Yusef" reminds you that he cut his teeth under Lateef's wings. [+]

Marco Eneidi/William Parker/Donald Robinson: Cherry Box (1998 [2000], Eremite): Alto saxophonist (1956-2016), born in Portland, as a child took lessons from Sonny Simmons, moved to New York in 1981 to study with Jimmy Lyons, played with William Parker, Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor, and Glenn Spearman. Trio here with bass and drums. Fierce leads, holding back only to let the others show off their magic. A- [sp]

Joel Futterman/William Parker/Jimmy Williams: Authenticity (1998, Kali -99) First cut has Futterman on piano, a lot of perambulating, with Williams' guitar contrasting to Parker's bass; second cut has Futterman on a rather thin-sounding soprano sax, working with Parker; both of these snatches have a high difficulty quotient, although neither are particularly loud. [4]

William Parker/In Order to Survive: The Peach Orchard (1997-98, AUM Fidelity 2CD) Quartet with Cooper-Moore (piano), Rob Brown (alto sax), Susie Ibarra (drums), with Assif Tsahar guesting on bass clarinet on "Posium Pendasem #3." The first disc is intense, with a lot to listen to from all, but it may make the most sense to try to concentrate on Parker, even when Cooper-Moore is dazzling. Parker's duet with Ibarra on "Moholo" (obviously a title with a drummer in mind) is particularly good. "The Peach Orchard" itself starts out with a stretch of Rob Brown screech -- not bad as these things go, but tougher listening than most of the album -- on top of Cooper-Moore's repetitive rhythm, which continues well past the sax solo. About midway Parker gets an arco solo, recapitulating Cooper-Moore's rhythm, with occasional shots from piano and drums: it all makes for a rather intense piece. The second disc is more of the same, but "Theme From Pelikan" seems to follow a slightly more regular beat, giving it an agreeable funkiness -- and Rob Brown and Susie Ibarra have a lot of fun with it. [10]

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Mass for the Healing of the World (1998 [2003], Black Saint): The bassist's 15-piece big band, less brass and more sax, an explosive rhythm section (Cooper-Moore on piano, Susie Ibarra on drums, and Parker), plus vocalist Aleta Heyes for the mass-like bits (not many). [sp] [8]

Die Like a Dog Quartet Featuring Roy Campbell: From Valley to Valley (1998 [1999], Eremite): Peter Brötzmann quartet, name derives from their 1993 album, originally with Toshinori Kondo (trumpet), William Parker (bass), and Hamid Drake (drums), but on this particular date -- recorded in Amherst, MA -- Campbell replaces Kondon on trumpet. [sp] [6]

Jemeel Moondoc & William Parker: New World Pygmies (1998, Eremite) Moondoc hung around Cecil Taylor during his college phase, then settled in New York and put together a group called Ensemble Muntu with Parker, Roy Campbell, and Rashid Bakr. Parker worked with Muntu up to around 1986, but then not again until this meeting. Three of the six pieces here are credited to Parker, one to Moondoc, two (including the title cut) jointly, so perhaps Parker has a home field advantage. Rumors that Moondoc is in scream mode are exaggerated, if not downright false. He plays with precision and logic, and much of this is quite pleasing if not downright lovely. Parker is rock solid, of course -- worth the effort of listening to even when Moondoc is playing. A drummer might have been a plus -- for at least part of a second (two years later) volume Hamid Drake joins. The three of them also play on Live at the Glenn Miller Café, which is looser and jauntier than this one, both easier listening and more thrills. But this may pay more dividends if you take the trouble to listen to it. [9]

Ye Ren [Gary Hassay/William Parker/Toshi Makihara]: Another Shining Path (1998, Drimala -99) Hassay plays alto saxophone, and is reputedly a bulwark of the Allentown PA avant-jazz scene. (Which may answer the burning question of why AMM recorded Live in Allentown USA.) Makihara is a drummer from Philadelphia, who's 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 Hassay and Makihara leave Parker a lot of space, and work around him carefully, which is what makes this such a good showcase for Parker's art. [+]

Fred Anderson/Hamid Drake/"Kidd" Jordan/William Parker: 2 Days in April (1999, Eremite -2CD -00) 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 then that the bass player isn'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. [4]

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet: Stone/Water (1999, Okkadisk -00) The first meeting of this group in 1997 netted three CDs in what seemed like a one-shot effort. However, after Ken Vandermark won the MacArthur Prize, he invested a good chunk of change in getting the group back together and taking them on the road. This CD, with one untitled piece that is either short or long at 38:44, was the first result. Two more came out in 2002, and two more in 2004. This seques through several movements, punctuated with blasts of the sax section. Fred Lonborg-Holm's violin figures large in the early going, and there's some fine interplay between clarinet and bass, but most of the action centers around the saxes, and the energy level is palpable. I don't mind the shortness. This is stimulation enough. [+]

Bill Cole and the Untempered Ensemble: Duets & Solos, Volume 1 (1999-2000, Boxholder) Not much of an ensemble here: this begins and ends with solo pieces, one on bamboo flute, the other on shenai (an Indian double reed instrument, a little more shrill than an oboe). In between are duets with Cooper-Moore (on his homemade instruments, not his piano), Warren Smith (gongs and drums), and William Parker (bass), while Cole rotates through a series of exotic instruments. Interesting conceptually, performed expertly, just not much buoyancy or something like that -- something that compels one to listen beyond the exotica. [5]

Bill Cole and the Untempered Ensemble: Duets & Solos, Volume 2 (1999-2000, Boxholder -01) Same basic deal as Volume 1, starting and ending solo, with duets sandwiched in between. These tend more toward pairing Cole and his menagerie of instruments with other horns -- alto sax, tuba, flute, "baritone horn" -- but the most successful pairing is again with William Parker. Cole's interest in exotic double reed instruments achieves an apotheosis of sorts when he tackles the hojok, a Korean contraption that ranges from a warbling low end not far removed from bagpipes to a high end somewhat like a trumpet. The closing solo is also on hojok, but more tentative, no doubt because he doesn't have Parker to guide him. All in all, a little better than the first one, but not as much fun as his marvelous Seasoning the Greens, cut with a full group. [+]

Kali Fasteau: Vivid (1998-99, Flying Note -01) A promising group, with Parker (bass), Hamid Drake (drums), Ron McBee (djembe & African percussion), Sabir Mateen (alto/tenor sax), Joe McPhee (soprano sax, pocket trumpet), and Fasteau (soprano sax, voice, and the usual kitchen sink). This is emerging as the most straightforward blowing date of the Fasteau records I have, although with Fasteau and McPhee both favoring the soprano sax, and switching off to even higher pitched instruments, the front line tends to sound high, thin, and a bit lonesome. Parker and Drake, of course, are superb. [5]

'Kidd' Jordan Quartet: New Orleans Festival Suite (1999, Silkheart -02): Avant saxophonist from New Orleans, plays tenor, with Joel Futterman on piano (also soprano sax), William Parker (bass), and Alvin Fielder (drums). Jordan was a well-kept secret until Katrina, when he was evidently discovered among the wreckage -- he even managed to play cameos in Tremé (at one point, Wendell Pierce's trombonist blurts out, as Jordan and Donald Harrison enter, "here come the real jazz musicians"). Two half-hour pieces plus an 11:58 closer, nothing sweet to it, the sax caustic, the piano explosive. [8]

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Mayor of Punkville (1999, AUM Fidelity 2CD -00). "James Baldwin to the Rescue" is a fine piece, with a vocal by Aleta Hayes that reminds me a bit of Sheila Jordan, some superb alto sax (by Rob Brown? only solo credit is Chris Jonas on soprano), and a great deal of discipline for a large ensemble (slimmed down a bit from Sunrise in the Tone World). "I Can't Believe I'm Here" gets louder and longer, with quite a bit of brass. The second disc is louder still, especially on "The Mayor of Punkville," which is raucous enough (credit Steve Swell, among others) to do that cathartic thing that redeems at least some loud free jazz. The "Interlude" pieces are moderate little transitional works, not much free-for-all. The closing "Anthem" is similarly elegant. [+]

Matthew Shipp String Trio: Expansion, Power, Release (1999, Hatology -01) Shipp, Maneri, Parker. With no drummer, we find Shipp driving the rhythm more, which simplifies the sound and makes for better music. Maneri is the dominant voice, of course, but this sounds less classical than much of his work; it's pretty diverse in fact. [9]

Matthew Shipp/William Parker: DNA (1999, Thirsty Ear) Piano and bass. In the notes Shipp writes about mature improvisers, which certainly describes him and Parker. Starts with "When Johnny Come Marching Home," which Shipp states, deconstructs until it nearly fades from view, then reconstructs again, while Parker saws a shifting counterwhine: a simple and attractive example of what they do. "Amazing Grace" is a brief coda. Between these recognizable ends everything else is pretty abstract. [+]

Alan Silva/Kidd Jordan/William Parker: Emancipation Suite #1 (1999, Boxholder -02) The first cut has a full-bodied classical music feel, the drums and much of the orchestration presumably coming from Silva's synthesizer; the second cut features Jordan (tenor sax) more; both strike me as cluttered and mannered. [3]

David S. Ware: Surrendered (1999, Columbia -00) [9]

The David S. Ware Quartet: BalladWare (1999, Thirsty Ear -06) Not exactly a standards album, given that four of seven songs come from Ware's own songbook. The others are "Yesterdays," "Autumn Leaves," and "Tenderly" -- they qualify, and the other pieces fit nicely around them. This reminds Francis Davis of Coltrane's Ballads, but it isn't nearly as conventional, nor as pretty. For one thing, Matthew Shipp does some tricky work on the chassis -- not raw, but nothing expected either. And while Ware holds back from getting rough, he does work the pieces around quite a bit. [9]

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet Plus Two: Broken English (2000, Okka Disk -02) The four saxophonists can make a huge din, as they do for short blasts on the long (42:48) first piece, but individually they are a talented lot, and that first piece particularly benefits from Roy Campbell (one of the "plus two"). It also starts with Hamid Drake chanting a vocal and working exotic drums. The second piece, a Vandermark composition for Franz Kline, is uglier overall -- or more intensely ugly. I doubt that there is much to choose from in this series -- a few folks will be turned on by the stimulation, many more will be turned off -- but this has a slight edge among those I've heard thus far. [+]

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet Plus Two: Short Visit to Nowhere (2000, Okka Disk -02) The first piece, Mars Williams' "Hold That Thought," is the most readily enjoyable thing the Tentet has done -- in large part because it sets up and works with a relatively steady groove. It would be interesting to hear a whole album in that vein. Brötzmann's title piece wanders quite a bit, but at least has the redeeming merit of keeping on the quiet side. Quiet, of course, is a relative term here. The other two pieces are less quiet, but at any point it's possible for one or more of the saxophonists to break loose with something genuinely ugly. On average, perhaps the best of the bunch, but all are so variable, so voluble, so intense that such distinctions may be meaningless. [+]

Daniel Carter/Toby Kasavan/Mark Hennen/William Parker: Feels Like It (2000, BDE-BDOP -07) Kasavan and Hennen both play piano/keyboards; Carter alto sax, flute, and trumpet, and Parker, of course, bass. Nothing on this album in Discogs, but thanks to Rick Lopez' magnificent Parker sessionography we know that Kasavan played with Parker once before (in 1977), while Hennen appears many times, from Jemeel Moondoc's Ensemble Muntu in 1973 all the way to 2008. Two long pieces, strong early as long as Carter can carry it. [6]

Frode Gjerstad/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Minneapolis Vol 1 (2000 [2020], Circulasione Totale): Norwegian avant alto saxophonist, started with Detail 1983-96, led Circulasione Totale Orchestra 1987-2011, has close to 100 small group records, including several more with this rhythm section -- including a 4-CD box on Not Two (2017, not clear when recorded). Looks like he's released a bunch of old tapes this year, including this 54:32 "Traffic Zone Centre" set. B+(*) [bc]

Frode Gjerstad/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Minneapolis Vol 2 (2000, Circulasione Totale): Slightly longer at 62:25, but takes a long time to get going, and while it may peak stronger, this isn't top shelf work from any involved. B [bc]

Mat Maneri: Blue Decco (2000, Thirsty Ear) With Craig Taborn (piano), Parker, and Gerald Cleaver (drums). Title cut is fairly lively. The other cuts are slower, with Maneri's deliberate violin plotting out interesting courses. [+]

Jemeel Moondoc & William Parker With Hamid Drake: New World Pygmies, Vol. 2 (2000, Eremite 2CD -02) Two cuts of Parker songs I know from elsewhere; evidently the first disc is just Moondoc and Parker, with Drake added for the second disc; the first cut is just bass and alto, nicely played; the second is similar, with drums. [+]

William Parker Trio: Painter's Spring (2000, Thirsty Ear) With Daniel Carter on reeds and flute and Hamid Drake on drums. The first cut reminds you that when it comes to swinging a band, not even John Kirby has anything on Parker. The fifth cut, "There Is a Balm in Gilead," is a ballad with a long bass solo with just enough edge to steer it away from being drop-dead gorgeous. The two "Foundation" cuts are showcases for Carter, who is as formidable here as on O'Neal's Porch. Haven't paid close enough attention to nail down all of the delights here -- for another thing, Drake sounds as impressive here as ever -- but I'm impressed.[9]

William Parker/Hamid Drake: Piercing the Veil, Volume 1 (2000, AUM Fidelity -01) Don't know if there is/will be a Vol. 2. This is, I think, the most successful of Parker's duos, perhaps because working with just a percussionist Parker gets to provide most of the color. And while Parker mostly operates on bass, he's also credited with balafone (an African percussion instrument, looks a bit like a wooden xylophone), slit drum, shakuhachi (Japanese wind instrument, a sort of bamboo flute), bombard (a primitive oboe?), dumbek (a small drum). Drake plays drums, but is also credited with bells, tablas, and frame drum. [9]

William Parker/Hamid Drake: First Communion + Piercing the Veil (2000, AUM Fidelity -07) Riddim exercises and intimate exotica, doubling a studio reissue with a live warm-up. [9]

William Parker Quartet: O'Neal's Porch (2000, AUM Fidelity -02) This happens a lot in the back waters of the industry: a record first comes out on the artist's own label, builds up some recognition, then gets picked up by a bigger, better distributed label. So we'll call it a reissue, even though Aum Fidelity has only committed to running off 2000 copies. Parker, best known for his work with Cecil Taylor, David S. Ware, and Matthew Shipp, is possibly the most important jazz bassist to come down the pike since Charles Mingus. His quartet here consists of drummer Hamid Drake (think Spaceways, Inc.) and two horns: Rob Brown (alto sax) and Lewis Barnes (trumpet). While Parker can make for some very difficult music, this launches off with three magnificent cuts where the horns soar and swoop over propulsive rhythm. It gets dicier after that, but the gospel theme to "Song for Jesus" is an attractive backdrop for Drake, and when the horns spar they're are all the shock and awe I'll ever need. [9]

Matthew Shipp Quartet: Pastoral Composure (2000, Thirsty Ear) Shipp, Parker, Gerald Cleaver on drums, Roy Campbell on trumpets. This is Shipp's first set in the Thirsty Ear Blue Series, which will eventually be a meeting ground for the avant-garde and electronica. But unlike past Shipp quartets, this one features a horn, and the other three pieces function much more as a rhythm section. At least to start out. Once they slow it down it falls back into some of the old abstraction, and the deconstruction of "Frere Jacques" is pretty silly. However, the closing two cuts are both different and strong: "Inner Order" is a gorgeous duet with Parker and Campbell, which more than anything else leaves me hanging on every Parker note; "XTU" is Shipp, solo, and for once it all works. [9]

Matthew Shipp's New Orbit (2001, Thirsty Ear) Blue Series quartet again, with Wadada Leo Smith replacing Roy Campbell. The net effect is to slow things down, a lot, which brings Parker's ringing bass effects to the fore. Again, Shipp closes with a solo; again, it works. [+]

Peter Brötzmann/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Never Too Late but Always Too Early: Dedicated to Peter Kowald (2001 [2003], Eremite, 2CD): Dedicated to the late German bassist (1944-2002), but recorded a year earlier, so subtitle is most likely an afterthought (but Brötzmann had a long association with Kowald, and Parker seems to have also developed a close relationship). Two long multipart pieces, and two extras, total 114:48. Good example of what they do. B+(***) [sp]

Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio: Ethnic Stew and Brew (2000 [2001], Delmark): Third album, third drummer, with Hamid Drake (replacing Zen Matsuura of Ancestral Homeland). The world focus extends to "Impressions of Yokohama," where William Parker plays shakuhachi, but also ranges from the ancient "Imhotep" to the breaking news of "Amadou Diallo" (you know, shot 47 times by New York police, an event repeated many times since, but still unmatched for savagery). [9]

Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Seasoning the Greens (2001, Boxholder -02) Cole plays oddball instruments: didgeridoo seems to be his main axe, and the others are things I'll have to look up someday: sona, hojok, shenai, nagaswarm. Cooper-Moore seems to have abandoned piano for what he calls "homemade instruments": flute, mouth bow, horizontal hoe-handle harp, penny whistle, rim drums. The group is fleshed out with a few more conventional instruments: bass (William Parker), drums (Warren Smith), alto sax (Sam Furnace), tuba (Joseph Daley). There's also an Atticus Cole who works in congas and bongos. So, yes, this is exotic, avant-jazz. The opening notes come from Cole's didgeridoo, a very awkward, very low-pitched instrument, in a slow piece called "Grouded." From there we have in effect a world tour: "The Triple Towers of Kyongbokkang," "South Indian Festival Rhythm," "Ghanian Funeral Rhythm," "South Indian Marriage Rhythm," "Colombian Rhythm," "Free Rhythm," "A Man Sees a Snake, a Woman Kills It: No Matter, as Long as It Is Dead." While performed as a continuous suite, the rhythms constantly turn over, augmented by whistle-like things. By the time of the "Colombian Rhythm" Furnace's alto is smoking. The "Free Rhythm" piece, surprisingly, slows down for some intimate plucking of exotic string instruments. [9]

Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Proverbs for Sam (2001, Boxholder -08) A belated tribute to alto saxophonist Sam Furnace, who died two years later, but who in this Vision Festival set holds the musical center ground with super-bassist William Parker while the leader's squeaky Asian double-reeds (soona, shenai, nagaswarm, didgeridoo), Cooper-Moore's diddly bow, and multiple percussionists swarm in pursuit of their otherworldly avant-exotica. [9]

William Parker Quartet Featuring Leena Conquest: Raining on the Moon (2001, Thirsty Ear -02) Parker, Drake, Rob Brown (alto, flute), and Louis Barnes (trumpet), with Conquest singing. The first cut, "Hunk Papa Blues," is a natural. "Song of Hope" has a vocal. "Old Tears" is a slow, lovely piece, with a brief trumpet solo, then another on sax. "Raining on the Moon" has another vocal, about an Indian taking over the presidency ("the white house is not the red house"; "Mahatma Gandhi is now minister of defense"; meanwhile the horns riff around her pronouncements). "James Baldwin to the Rescue" comes from an earlier album, but is shaped more economically here. In fact, while the popcraft is certainly skewed here -- Parker and Drake are so good that they can bend the rhythm any which way and let you dig it, while Brown and Barnes are experts by now at improvising in this context. [10]

William Parker Clarinet Trio: Bob's Pink Cadillac (2001, Eremite 2CD -02) Bass-drums-clarinet, but the brilliant idea here was to get Perry Robinson for the clarinet. Robinson's first record, Funk Dumpling (1962, Savoy), was eloquent and just far enough out to have a little edge to it. This is, of course, a bit further out. Walter Perkins is the drummer. [9]

William Parker/Joe Morris/Hamid Drake: Eloping With the Sun (2001, Riti -03) Morris is the front-man here, although his fingerpicked banjo and banjouke don't generate any real volume, and function more as rhythm than for melody. Drake's drum matches up evenly; Parker is more back in the mix, not all that easy to follow -- he's credited with playing "zintir" -- will have to look that up (Moroccan bass lute). Minimalism. [+]

The Cosmosamatics (2001, Boxholder) Two horns up front (not counting guests -- James Carter on bass sax is mentioned); first cut has a bit of unison work, then Simmons bursting out on alto; second cut sounds more like Marcus, with Samir Chatterjee's tablas; the third cut is longer and messier, much as you might expect, but not without interest. Also William Parker (bass) and Jay Rosen (drums). [5]

Spring Heel Jack: Masses (2001, Thirsty Ear) I've gotten to this one after Amassed, but it was cut earlier, and may be considered the prototype. Whereas Amassed was built around Europe's avant-garde, the players here are mostly Americans (exception: Evan Parker) with prior connections to Shipp. The other difference is that the music here is more obviously the work of Coxon/Wales: little snippets of electronics that the jazzmen improvise off of. The second cut, "Chiaroscuro," is an industrial-ish dirge, with a riveting sax solo that may be Daniel Carter (one of the artists listed with that cut) but sounds more like Tim Berne. [9]

David S. Ware Quartet: Corridors & Parallels (2001, AUM Fidelity) The distinctive thing here is that Matthew Shipp has switched from piano to synth, which provides a plethora of rhythmic effects for Ware to play off of. Ware is his usual snarling self, but the juxtaposition is startlingly new. [10]

Peter Brötzmann/Milford Graves/William Parker: Historic Music Past Tense Future (2002 [2022], Black Editions): German tenor saxophonist, a founding father of the European avant-garde, taped at CBGB's in New York with local drummer and bassist. B+(***)

Collective 4tet: Moving Along (2002 [2005], Leo): Recorded the same day as Synopsis. Three long pieces, in their zone, with trombone highlights. B+(**) [r]

Mat Maneri: Sustain (2002, Thirsty Ear) Maneri is credited with violas here. Joe McPhee gets a "featuring" credit, and the rhythm section is Parker-Cleaver-Craig Taborn. In Shipp's Blue Series, but a fairly straight free date, with McPhee a definite plus. [+]

Jemeel Moondoc Trio: Live at Glenn Miller Café Vol. 1 (2002, Ayler) Less exciting than the blowing session with Anders Gahnold recorded earlier the same day, and a bit cluttered with the informality of live performance, but Moondoc has a lot going for him. [9]

Wiliam Parker Trio: . . . And William Danced (2002, Ayler) April 15, 2002: Parker and Hamid Drake go to Sweden, and cut two records in one day. I haven't heard the second, released as the Jemeel Moondoc Trio, Live at the Glenn Miller Café (Ayler), but earlier in the day they went into a studio with alto saxophonist Anders Gahnold and cut this one. Three long pieces (17, 18, 30 minutes), loosely organized. But this is as good as I've ever heard Drake and Parker play together, or for that matter as good as I've ever hard Drake play. Once you listen past the horn, the rhythm play is just completely fascinating. And as for the horn, Gahnold is terrific. His tone is a bit hoarse, a mini-vibrato. [10]

William Parker Violin Trio: Scrapbook (2002, Thirsty Ear -03) 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. Parker's intro to "Holiday for Flowers" is a good example of his virtuosity, but Bang's violin stars throughout. This may be the single best example of his sound and dynamics. [10]

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Spontaneous (2002, Splasc(H) -03) The bassist's big band, never the most disciplined of units but well stocked with free-thinkers (e.g., trumpets: Lewis Barnes, Matt Lavelle, Roy Campbell), in full improv fury, live at CBGB's in New York. Two half-hour pieces, "Spontaneous Flowers" (Ayler) and "Spontaneous Mingus." [6]

William Parker: Universal Tonality (2002 [2022], Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD): From 1994-2006, Parker recorded a number of albums with his big band, the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. This isn't credited as such, but the 17 musicians here overlap considerably, but this seems more star-laden (two violinists: Billy Bang and Jason Kao Hwang), with vocalist Loreena Conquest featured, reminding us: "Hope is relentless/ it never dies." A [cd]

The Cosmosamatics II (2002, Boxholder) Substitutes Curtis Lundy on bass for Parker, but otherwise is expectedly similar; Lundy is a more straightforward bassist than Parker, but that works as well (or better) as a base for Simmons/Marcus. [5]

Matthew Shipp: Nu Bop (2002, Thirsty Ear) Shipp has one of the most distinctive piano styles around -- chords falling in heavy, angular blocks -- but what makes this one stand above the rest is how the electronics set up a comparably harsh background. [9]

Matthew Shipp: Equilibrium (2003, Thirsty Ear) Same lineup as Nu Bop, except that Khan Jamal (vibes) replaces Daniel Carter (sax, flute). "Vamp to Vibe" is a pure rhythm track. "Nebula Theory" is dark atmospherics: in his PSF interview, Shipp talks about how much he liked David Bowie's Low as a kid, and this sounds a bit like one of the dark blotches on the second side, but Bowie never had Parker or Jamal to work with. The fourth cut, "Cohesion," puts it all together, with relentless beat and Shipp both reinforcing the beat and playing it out. "World of the Blue Glass," again, is slow and dark, with Shipp setting the pace and drums following. Then the pace picks up again, the pattern of fast/slow/fast/slow. Probably his best album. [9]

Spring Heel Jack: Amassed (2002, Thirsty Ear) Not electronica, even though John Coxon and Ashley Wales claim responsibility for "all other instruments" -- there's just not that much room left in the company of these big league avantists: Han Bennink, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Matthew Shipp, Kenny Wheeler, and a handful of less well known names. The noise quotient is high, the pace is mostly slow, and the sound effects -- not much here to suggest words like "melody" -- scatter widely. Wheeler gets in some nice trumpet on "Lit." Parker's piece, "Maroc," pairs his soprano sax with electronic squiggles, to interesting effect. The final cut, "Obscured," is my favorite piece of industrial noise in recent years, but overall a mixed bag. [+]

David S. Ware Quartet: Freedom Suite (2002, AUM Fidelity) Can't do this record justice at this point, but the only doubt about the grade is that it might be too low. The music starts off from Sonny Rollins, the length almost doubled because Ware is as voluble as ever. And the Quartet is well on its way to becoming legendary: Parker and Shipp have anchored, checked, and increasingly driven Ware since 1991. [9]

Blue Series Essentials (2000-02, Thirsty Ear) As far as I know, this label sampler is only available at Borders Book Stores for a measly $1.99. Which is to say, it should be trash, but it isn't. That's because it is consistent, rooted in a single well-defined musical concept, and because its variety adds to the picture instead of fragmenting it. In other words, it is exactly what you'd want in an introductory genre-exploring compilation. That this is a single-label thing is due to its executive producer and omnipresent pianist, Matthew Shipp. The concept is to reconceive avant-jazz on a framework of electronics, or alternatively to push electronica into improvisation by lining up extraordinarily sensitive and savvy acoustic musicians. Shipp himself swings both ways, with his characteristic heavily-chorded piano on Nu Bop and dense synthesizer elsewhere. And while the high point is acoustic -- Tim Berne's bracing saxophone from The Shell Game -- the last word goes to the roiling industrialism that Spring Heel Jack forged from a who's who of Europe's most creative corps. I've never heard a sampler before that made me want to hear a third of the product, but this one makes me want to hear it all. [9]

VisionFest VisionLive (2002, Thirsty Ear -03) A sampler from the 2002 Vision Festival in New York City: Muntu, Dave Burrell/Tyrone Brown, Billy Bang, Douglas Ewart, Matthew Shipp, Karen Borca, Elen Christi, Kidd Jordan/Fred Anderson, Peter Kowald (three months before his death). [+]

Rob Brown Quartet: The Big Picture (2003 [2004], Marge): Alto saxophonist, with Roy Campbell (trumpet), William Parker (bass), and Hamid Drake (drums). B+(**) [r]

Matthew Shipp Trio: The Trio Plays Ware (2003, Splasc(H) -04) With William Parker (bass) and Guillermo E. Brown (drums), not just any piano trio but David S. Ware's legendary quartet minus the saxophonist. Lacks the rough edges Ware couldn't help but add, and some of the emotional force as well, while revealing how centered the melodies were. [8]

The David S. Ware String Ensemble: Threads (2003, Thirsty Ear) Ware's regular quartet -- William Parker, Matthew Shipp (on Korg Triton Pro X), Guillermo E. Brown -- plus Mat Maneri (viola) and Daniel Bernard Roumain (violin). Roumain is "a rising star in the classical world," or something like that. Maneri is well known by now, an avant-jazzer whose father (Joe Maneri) straddles the far-avant-classical/jazz spectrum (e.g., big on microtonal work). I love "Sufic Pasages," enjoy the Ware-Brown duos, and find the longer, heavily textured pieces interesting and enjoyable. [8]

The David S. Ware Quartets: Live in the World (1998-2003, Thirsty Ear 3CD -05) Three discs, three concerts, three drummers. Aside from the drummers, the Ware Quartet is the longest running small group in history. Ware almost never works outside of the group, but his cohorts, William Parker and Matthew Shipp, have distinguished careers in their own right, and their own stardom gets more play in these looser concert gigs than on the studio albums. Looking back, the energy jolt that arrived with Susie Ibarra and the shift to electronics heralded by Guillermo E. Brown may have been side-effects of the maturation of the three mainstays. That the drummers matter less is made clear on the date with the redoubtable Hamid Drake sitting, and merely blending, in. [9]

The Blue Series Continuum: The Good and Evil Sessions (2003, Thirsty Ear) This is an advance, so I'm a little unclear on the titling and how these tracks came together. The musicians are: Roy Campbell (trumpet), Alex Lodico (trombone), William Parker (bass), Josh Roseman (trombone), and Matthew Shipp (piano), with "all other sounds played and made, sliced and diced, fixed and mixed by GoodandEvil and Miso," so I'll have to do some research to figure out just what that means -- looks like two guys, Chris Kelly and Danny Blume (and maybe Ricky Quinones), who have a studio in Brooklyn and an interesting list of clients and project -- at least if you're the sort who's impressed by Sex Mob, Le Tigre, Northern State, and Josh Roseman. [+]

The Blue Series Continuum: The Sorcerer Sessions Featuring the Music of Matthew Shipp (2003, Thirsty Ear) Working off an advance here. Group: Gerald Cleaver (drums), FLAM (programming and synth), William Parker (bass), Matthew Shipp (piano and synth), Daniel Bernard Roumain (violin), Evan Ziporyn (clarinet and bass clarinet). I've always assumed that these are remakes of earlier Shipp compositions, but I can't find any of the titles in Rich Lopez's discography, which is pretty complete on such things. Engineered by FLAM at Sorcerer Sound. Trying to follow this album turns out to be a chore, whereas the 6-10 times I've played it and didn't manage to pay adequate attention to write about it sounded much better. Shipp is known to be a big admirer of David Bowie's Low. The first side of Low is tuneful, but the second side is full of atmospherics with little beat; this makes me wonder whether it's the second side that he admires. Yet having enjoyed this 6-10 times in the background, I have to credit it with a bit more going for it than I've described above. [5]

The Free Zen Society (2003, Thirsty Ear -07) Label honcho Peter Gordon pulled this improv session off the shelf, wrapping Matthew Shipp's stout piano chords with gossamer strands of Zeena Parkins harp, William Parker bass, and his own scattered electronics, giving it a new agey contemplativeness that only partially obscure the muscle underneath. [5]

Spring Heel Jack: Live (2003, Thirsty Ear) A smaller group than Amassed, with Shipp (Fender Rhodes), Evan Parker (tenor saxophone), J Spaceman [Jason Pierce, of Spiritualized] (guitar), William Parker (bass), and Han Bennink (drums). Two long pieces, neither with anything as obvious as a theme: it really feels more like a playground, with every conceivable sound emerging somehow somewhere. At its best it is very interesting, but it has its rough spots as well. [5]

The Blue Series Sampler: The Shape of Jazz to Come (2002-03, Thirsty Ear) Cherry picking from two peak years of Matthew Shipp meets the DJs, this coheres because Shipp and William Parker are near constants, but the changes refresh too, like a good hip hop comp. [9]

Vision Volume 3 (2003, Arts for Art -05) Excerpts from the 2003 Vision Festival, which William Parker and Patricia Nicholson organize each year. I've had this on the shelf a long time, figuring that this was one case where I wanted to take a look at the DVD before signing off on the CD, but never finding the time or inclination to do so. Finally took a look at it today. It's poorly shot and badly edited, with lots of double exposure shots. The sound is sometimes out of sync, and there is a formatting problem that keeps it from returning to the menu after playing a section. On the other hand, the dance pieces by Nicholson and Maria Mitchell (accompanied by Kali Z. Fasteau) lose out otherwise, and seeing helps explain Joseph Jarman's two-horn act. Otherwise, a mixed bag: the experiments at best suggest directions to follow further, and the variety ends them as quickly as it moves past ones that are less interesting. [7]

Fred Anderson/Hamid Drake/William Parker: Blue Winter (2004 [2005], Eremite) The five minutes of solo sax opening the second disc lays bare Anderson's toolkit. He can't get out of second gear until the rhythm section joins in, but when they do, Parker and Drake sound huge, filling the soundscape with shifting grooves and potent rumble. Anderson has plenty to say then, until Parker picks up his nagaswaram (an Indian oboe) for a snake-charming duet. [9]

Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio: Expansion (2003, High Two -04) Avant-ragtime, skeletal Berlin, Andrew Cyrille marches on, William Parker delights on kora. [8]

Bill Cole/William Parker: Two Masters: Live at the Prism (2004, Boxholder -05) Cole has made a specialty out of playing odd wind instruments -- didgeridoo, shenai, sona, shenai, nagaswaram, hojok, various flutes -- and at least once turned his exotic interests into a really fine jazz album: Seasoning the Greens (Boxholder). However, two previous volumes of Duets & Solos wound up sounding thin and experimental. Parker is one of the world's great bassists, but he too has a fondness for exotic instruments, and is far less masterful when he indulges. The results are mixed -- one, called "Election Funeral Dance," sounds like the work of two snakes who've disposed of their charmers, but others are more agreeable and/or interesting. [6]

Evan Parker Trio & Peter Brötzmann Trio: The Bishop's Move (2003 [2004], Victo): Festival set in Victoriaville, one 73:31 piece, a clash between two premier avant-saxophone trios. Parker's trio, with Alex von Schlippenbach (piano) and Paul Lytton (drums), goes way back. Brötzmann picked up William Parker (bass) and Hamid Drake (drums) for the occasion. I'm not normally happy with blowouts, but this is exceptional in many ways. Schlippenbach, especially, is outstanding. Even the breather, a Parker bass solo offered an hour in, is a highlight. A- [sp]

William Parker Quartet: Sound Unity (2004, AUM Fidelity -05) This is Parker's pianoless quartet, a format that demands two horn players who can dance -- who play together even when they seem to be flying off at odd tangents. Trumpeter Lewis Barnes and alto saxist Rob Brown, little known outside of Parker's discography, make a lovely couple. But in this quartet bassist Parker and drummer Hamid Drake aren't content to keep time: They, too, dance. Perfect balance -- the political analog is equality -- is impossible to achieve, but if you listen to this record four times, each time focusing on a player, you'll hear four slightly distinct albums, each one coherent. They did it. [9]

William Parker: Luc's Lantern (2004, Thirsty Ear -05) Parker's past work with piano trios leaned heavily toward brawling with the likes of Cecil Taylor and Matthew Shipp. But this time he goes outside his usual circle, tapping drummer Michael Thompson and unknown Eri Yamamoto, an inside-out pianist who reminds me of Geri Allen. Probably the idea is to spotlight his songwriting -- based on folk melodies, some surprisingly pretty, a couple roughed up by old habits, including a Taylorized take on Bud Powell. And by all means keep one ear cocked for the bass. [8]

William Parker Bass Quartet Featuring Charles Gayle: Requiem (2004, Splasc(H) -06) The four bassists -- Parker plus Henry Grimes, Alan Silva, and Sirone -- set the tone and limit the momentum, with Gayle occasionally joining in on alto sax for a bit of spit and polish. [7]

Hugh Ragin: Revelation (2004, Justin Time) It is tempting just to sit back and listen to the bass and drums -- the marvelous duo of William Parker and Hamid Drake -- but the two horns, Ragin on trumpet and Assif Tsahar on tenor sax or bass clarinet, are impossible to ignore. Both are aggressive avant-gardists, and together they can peel paint, but individually they offer a lot to listen to. A bit too aggressive to recommend broadly, but sharp enough that even when I disapprove I'm impressed. [+]

Matthew Shipp: Harmony and Abyss (2004, Thirsty Ear) Shipp's early records were minimal affairs, often duos where he would project long melodic lines like Bud Powell swept into the avant '90s. Until he hooked up with Thirsty Ear he never showed much interest in rhythm, but working for a rock label brought out his inner David Bowie as he veiled his increasingly percussive play behind horn leads. This one is the breakthrough he advertised on Nu Bop and promoted on Equilibrium, because finally the masks are gone: no horns, no vibes, just a piano trio plus programmer Chris Flam. Shipp's piano (or synth) is always up front, the pieces are all differentiated by rhythm, and the rhythms are as diverse as Shipp's melodic lines once were. [10]

Spring Heel Jack: The Sweetness of the Water (2004, Thirsty Ear) John Coxon and Ashley Wales continue to indulge their dreams in working with world class avant-garde jazz musicians, but the musicians seem to be losing interest in working with them. We're down to four now, with John Edwards and Mark Sanders replacing William Parker and Han Bennink, although I'm not sure that even Edwards and Sanders will put this one down on their resume. The front line is holdover Evan Parker plus now second billed Wadada Leo Smith, and they don't contribute a lot either: Smith does some little figures and occasionally rips off a high note, while Parker presumably has something to do with the occasional warbling. The rest of the sounds presumably come from Coxon & Wales, who do seem to be more active this time (Wales even claims some of the trumpet), but the musical fabric here is tattered and often barren. Isolated spots still hold some interest, especially the electronic swell that launches "Autumn" (topped by the mother of all Smith high notes). [4]

Steve Swell's Fire Into Music: For Jemeel: Fire From the Road (2003-04 [2023], RogueArt, 3CD): Trombonist (b. 1954), played a lot of different things early on but moved to the front of the avant-garde in the late 1990s, and is the first person I think of for polls and such these days. He released an album in 2004 called Fire Into Music, co-credited to Hamid Drake (drums), Jemeel Moondoc (reeds), and William Parker (bass), and took that group out on the road for the three superb concerts collected here. A- [cd]

Hamid Drake/Albert Beger/William Parker: Evolving Silence Vol. 1 (2005, Earsay) Tempted to file this under Beger -- Israeli tenor saxophonist, also plays alto flute, b. 1959, album cut on his home turf, name centered on the cover, and of course his brash free runs dominate the sound -- but the spine and all other sources favor the drummer. Beger starts tentative but soon finds his voice, and charges hard until they close out with some kind of chant. [8]

Hamid Drake/Albert Beger/William Parker: Evolving Silence Vol. 2 (2005, Earsay -06) More from the same sessions. "Funky Lacy" lives up to its title. [7]

Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker: Palm of Soul (2005, AUM Fidelity -06) Driven from his home by Katrina, storied but little documented avant-saxophonist Jordan headed for New York to a cult hero's welcome. At 70, he shows signs of mellowing a bit -- or maybe he's just amused by his playmates, who augment their world-class bass and drums with world-class toys like guimbri and tablas. [9]

William Parker: Long Hidden: The Olmec Series (1993-2005, AUM Fidelity -06) The reissue component is "In Case of Accident," solo bass from an out-of-print self-release tacked on as an afterthought because there was a bit of space left. Avant-jazz bass solos aren't everyone's cup of tea, but this one is deep, intense, and powerfully moving -- and at 14:09 long doesn't commit you like a full album does. The new stuff includes three milder bass solos, three solos on 8-string doson ngoni, and four complex rhythmic vamps by the Olmec Group, an experiment in Mesoamericana. It all feels like a sketchbook, any piece of which could be developed into something substantial. [7]

William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: For Percy Heath (2005, Victo -06) A record on my wish list for quite a while now; finally broke down and bought a copy. Parker's liner notes recall two times he ran into the late MJQ bassist Percy Heath: the first Heath greated him as "Mr. Iron Fingers"; the second Parker asked if he could do anything for Heath, who replied, "No, just keep playing your music." One long piece here, in four parts. Parker's big band can get pretty unruly, but a lot of focus on the bass helps rein in the excesses. And when, as for much of "Part One" they do break out they're ordered enough to be awesome. [9]

William Parker & Hamid Drake: Summer Snow (2005, AUM Fidelity -07) New work, billed as "Volume 2" to complement the Piercing the Veil reissue, this documents five years of progress, or at least maturity: the bass and drums are more grooveful, the exotica more exotic, sometimes so much so that it is hard to follow. [7]

Mike Pride: Scrambler (2005, Not Two) Drummer, his later albums on AUM Fidelity are energetic but none too artful; the advantage here is first-rate help, with guitarist Charlie Looker someone to look into, bassist William Parker and saxophonist Tony Malaby way beyond dependable. [7]

Raoul Björkenheim/William Parker/Hamid Drake: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (2006, DMG/ARC -08) Slash and grind guitar supported by *the* rhythm section, with a snake-charming shawm bonus. [9]

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet: American Landscapes 1 (2006 [2007], Okka Disk) Big birds have deep, rumbling hearts . . . [8]

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet: American Landscapes 2 (2006, Okka Disk -07) . . . which swell over time, pumping longer and louder. [7]

Alon Nechushtan: For Those Who Cross the Seas (2006 [2023], ESP-Disk, 2CD): Israeli pianist, based in New York, has a half-dozen albums, mostly 2011-14. Two live sets here, the first disc called "Astral Voyages," the second "Cosmic Canticles." Band names also appear on front cover, offset just enough to spare me listing them all on the slugline, but worth mentioning here: Roy Campbell (flute/trumpet), Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen (saxophones/clarinet), William Parker (bass), and Federico Ughi (drums). A- [cd]

David S. Ware Quartet: Renunciation (2006, AUM Fidelity -07) Reportedly the finale of the most formidable quartet since Coltrane's, with stars William Parker and Matthew Shipp and a series of drummers marking epochs within the era. One more live shot to go with Live in the World. [9]

David S. Ware: Shakti (2008, AUM Fidelity -09) A new quartet, with guitarist Joe Morris the second seed. The Indian motifs are part of Ware's spiritual quest, but when he plays it's hard to escape the here and now. While most tenor saxophonists have tried to sound like John Coltrane, Ware simply lived the life, finding his own unique way, elevating everyone around him. [9]

Thirsty Ear Blue Series Sampler (2002-06, Thirsty Ear) Matthew Shipp's series built a bridge from avant-jazz to DJ culture so successfully that of late most of the traffic has come from the rock-rap-DJ side looking to break new ground. This is their third series sampler, with tracks from 15 recent of 47 total albums -- a bargain at $2.98 list, not just to explore but because it actually flows. But as a sampler is mixes the ordinary with the breakthroughs. Alternatively, you could go straight to the major records in the series, which I make to be: Shipp's Nu-Bop and Harmony and Abyss, William Parker's Raining on the Moon and Scrapbook, David S. Ware's Live in This World, and in a more hip-hop vein, the Yohimbe Brothers' The Tao of Yo. [7]

Rashied Ali/Charles Gayle/William Parker: By Any Means: Live at Crescendo (2007 [2008], Ayler 2CD) By Any Means is probably meant to be the group name, but the principals are listed on the front cover, top to bottom as above (that would be alphabetically), and their names go further toward explaining what this is or why anyone should care. This is the same trio that recorded, under Gayle's name, Touchin' on Trane back in 1991 -- one of those Penguin Guide crown albums. So it's a little disconcerting that this gets off so awkwardly at first -- even more so that Parker is the odd man out. Ali gets 3 of the first 4 pieces; Gayle the other one and the next 3; Parker recovers on his own 3-song second disc stretch, ending with a group improv. The sound isn't all that sharp. The moves are unexceptional for these guys -- Gayle at full speed is quite a treat, but he's been there and done that many times before. [6]

Rob Brown Ensemble: Crown Trunk Root Funk (2007, AUM Fidelity -08) An unsung hero of many William Parker projects, alto saxophonist Brown finally gets his showcase, leading a superb quartet that started as a Vision Festival gig and worked their way into the studio. Parker is the bassist, of course. Gerald Cleaver drums, and Craig Taborn will turn some ears with his piano. Brown's slower pieces take a while to settle in. His fast ones are breathtaking. [9]

Tony Malaby: Tamarindo (2007, Clean Feed) A trio, with Malaby playing tenor and soprano sax, William Parker on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums. Malaby owns all the song credits, but it has a loose improv feel. Parker gets quite a bit of space, and his arco work is spectacular. But the album doesn't quite click for me: maybe too much soprano, or maybe there's a mismatch between Parker and Waits -- the latter is best known for his work with Jason Moran and Fred Hersch. Malaby is remarkably adaptable at playing with both types, but not quite forceful enough to lead them. [7]

William Parker/Raining on the Moon: Corn Meal Dance (2007, AUM Fidelity) Parker's lyrics can get preachy or plain didactic, and singer Leena Conquest amplifies the slightest hint of gospel all too predictably. But his sweeping melodies lift them into the cosmos, and the avant-garde virtuosos in the band never wander: They fill in and extend so expertly (Lewis Barnes' trumpet stands out) that this might even be compelling as an instrumental. [9]

William Parker/Raining on the Moon: Great Spirit (2007-12 [2015], AUM Fidelity): Originally the bassist's great two-horn quartet with Lewis Barnes (trumpet) and Rob Brown (alto sax), to which he added singer Leena Conquest on 2002's Raining on the Moon and pianist Eri Yamamoto for 2007's Corn Meal Dance. These I take to be leftover tracks from the latter, an exceptionally productive year. Parker can get corny when he writes lyrics, but this is a band and singer that can swing anything, and the horns can get much edgier. [PS: 6 tracks from 2007 Corn Meal Dance session, plus 1 track from a 2012 session, which also produced 6 tracks for Wood Flute Songs.] A-

William Parker: Double Sunrise Over Neptune (2007, AUM Fidelity -08) A large group with free-wheeling horns, a string quartet (plus bass), oud, guitar or banjo, two drummers, and an operatic singer from India named Sageeta Bandyopadhyay. Remarkably, it all holds together, paced by a metronomic bassline, which Parker subcontracts so he can work on exotica, including the West African lute called the doson ngoni and squeaky double reed instruments. The sort of miracle Sun Ra used to conjure up, but two planets further out from Ra's home base. [10]

William Parker Quartet: Petit Oiseau (2007, AUM Fidelity -08) Two free-wheeling horns backed by the hardest working rhythm section in avant-jazz -- the leader on bass and Hamid Drake on drums -- this has been a glorious group ever since O'Neal's Porch dropped in 2000. Here, surprisingly, the horns hew to the heads and the pulse conjures hard bop. That's what happens when the leader's writing evolves from scenarios into full blown songs. [8]

Anthony Braxton/Milford Graves/William Parker: Beyond Quantum (2008, Tzadik) In five meetings the avant-garde legends turn exquisite craftsmanship into explosive chemistry. [9]

Gerald Cleaver/William Parker/Craig Taborn: Farmers by Nature (2008, AUM Fidelity -09) Artists listed alphabetically, although Cleaver gets co-credit with Steven Joerg for production; all pieces attributed to all three, also alphabetically. I'm filing it under Cleaver, a journeyman drummer who's played on a lot of good records and is slowly building up a short list of unspectacular ones under his own name. Taborn is a pianist who came up in James Carter's quartet. Better known these days for his Fender Rhodes, but plays acoustic here, poking around abstractly, with muted Don Pullen flashes. Best thing here is when Taborn picks up a jagged groove and the others knock him about. Parker, of course, is superb in his supporting role, and brilliant as a soloist, at least when you can hear him clearly. Recorded at the Stone, NYC, rather offhandedly with a bit of applause at the end. Nice pictures, especially on the back cover. [6]

Collective 4tet: In Transition (2008 [2009], Leo): One more album, the trombonist departed, replaced by Arthur Brooks (trumpet/flugelhorn), who plays this close to the vest, as pianist Mark Hennen takes a more pominent role. B+(***) [sp]

Sophia Domancich/Hamid Drake/William Parker: Washed Away: Live at the Sunside (2008 [2009], Marge): French pianist, side credits start in 1983, with her first trio in 1991. Another trio here, as can happen when famous Americans wander about Europe. Set of three pieces: one joint credit, one from Mal Waldron, and no less than 36:37 of "Lonely Woman." [sp] [8]

William Parker: At Somewhere There (2008, Barnyard -10) Long bass solo, mild and creamy as those things go, followed by experiments on dousn'gouni and double flute. [8]

William Parker: I Plan to Stay a Believer (2001-08, AUM Fidelity 2CD -10) Long awaited. Parker unveiled his inside take on Curtis Mayfield's political thoughts in 2001 and has shopped it around ever since, finally collecting slices from six concerts up through 2008 onto two discs. Leena Conquest sings, Amiri Baraka waxes eloquent, ad hoc choirs come and go. The groove picks up some swing and a bunch of horns. "This Is My Country" could shut down a tea party, or launch another. [10]

William Parker & Stefano Scondanibbio Duo: Bass Duo (2008, Centering -17) Two bassists, one famous, the other not (at least not that I'm aware of; he died at 55 in 2012), performing improv duets at a jazz festival in Udine, Italy. Probably not your cup of tea, but I'm fascinated, and don't even mind it for background ambiance. [7]

David S. Ware New Quartet: Théâtre Garonne, 2008 (2008, AUM Fidelilty -19) The old Quartet had one of the greatest runs in jazz history, from 1990-2007, with Matthew Shipp (piano), William Parker (bass), and a series of drummers. His new Quartet, with Joe Morris (guitar), Parker, and Warren Smith (drums), turned out one album (Shakti) before kidney failure sidelined Ware (a kidney transplant gave him a brief respite from 2009-12, during which he made a partial comeback). This live date came a few weeks after the album, reprising most of the compositions. Ware is Ware, but Morris has some surprises in store. [9]

Eri Yamamoto: Duologue (2008, AUM Fidelity) Young pianist, wrote all the pieces, mostly around rhythm vamps which, while not all that distinctive, provide common ground for four pairs of spare, understated duos. She keeps good company: drummers Federico Ughi and Hamid Drake, bassist William Parker, and alto/tenor saxophonist Daniel Carter. The latter is a revelation here, playing tight in what amounts to a ballad mode. [7]

Billy Bang/William Parker: Medicine Buddha (2009, NoBusiness -14) I wouldn't hold much hope for violin-bass duos, but we're talking two all-time jazz greats here, and both have a tendency toward hearts-on-sleeve. Bang died in 2011, a huge loss, and I count this as his fourth posthumous release: a duo with Bill Cole didn't offer much, but the two group albums on TUM were superb. So is this. [9]

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker: Live at Dunois (2009, Leo) Avant bass duets, both masters with plenty of tricks up their sleeves, but they open politely, teasing their instruments to sing. Of course, later on Léandre does literally sing -- or something approximate. [7]

William Parker/Giorgio Dini: Temporary (2009, Silta): Bass duo, with a short "Intermezzo" with Parker on shakuhachi. B+(*)

David S. Ware: Onecept (2009, AUM Fidelity -10) His life saved by a kidney transplant, the avant saxophonist's rehab continues: first the solo Saturnian improv with stritch and manzello for variety, now he adds bass and drums -- old hands William Parker and Warren Smith, who can follow him anywhere. He works up subtle schemata, but the main thing you hear is his towering sound. [9]

Other Dimensions in Music Featuring Fay Victor: Kaiso Stories (2010, Silkheart -11) Group was originally formed in 1989 with Roy Campbell (trumpet), Daniel Carter (alto sax), William Parker (bass), and Rashid Bakr (drums). They cut a group improv album for Silkhear then, then reappeared in 1997 with two albums for AUM Fidelity, one with Matthew Shipp added. This is their fourth, with Charles Downs taking over the drums for Bakr, but the more important change is adding vocalist Fay Victor. As Lars-Olof Gustavsson explains in the liner notes, he was looking to do a vocal album, found Victor, then matched the band. Victor is a very strong, distinctive vocalist -- when I reviewed her Cartwheels Through the Cosmos all I could do was compare her to Betty Carter -- and she takes yet another twist here, exploiting her Trinidadian roots with eight lyrics from classic calypso tunes (Roaring Lion, Lord Executor, Lord Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow) and 1939 field recordings. The free jazz improv doesn't make this easy, introducing a tension as Victor is torn between tying the rhymes down and surrendering to the chaotic rhythm. [8]

Tony Malaby's Tamarindo: Live (2010, Clean Feed) Originally a tenor sax trio with Malaby, William Parker on bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums. This time adds Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet. Sounds like a good deal, but Smith focuses on the tight riffing he specializes in, and Malaby never breaks out -- sound seems a little muffled to me. [6]

William Parker Organ Quartet: Uncle Joe's Spirit House (2010, Centering) With Darryl Foster on tenor sax, Cooper-Moore on organ, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Parker, of course, on bass. Not an easy record to pigeonhole. Foster is the least avant of the many players in Parker's orbit -- he fits into the Curtis Mayfield music niche nicely, but rarely appears elsewhere, and takes a while getting his footing here. Cooper-Moore on organ should be interesting, but isn't -- he neither follows Jimmy Smith or any other known player nor finds his own way, but part of that may be that with Parker on board there's no need for the organ to double up on piano and bass duties. The music is rather straightforward, built out from the bass line, a steady pulse of life. [8]

William Parker/Gianni Lenoci/Vittorino Curci/Marcello Magliocchi: Serving Evolving Humanity (2010, Silta) Free jazz "suite" in three parts, a little over 50 minutes. Parker's bass is a factory of sound, and pianist Lenoci starts with a Tayloresque explosion of notes, although when the slow it down he's equally dazzling -- his is a name you should take note of. The sax and drums are less notable, nor does it help when Curci opts to make his noise by grunting through a megaphone. [7]

The Element Choir & William Parker: At Christ Church Deer Park (2010, Barnyard -12) The Element Choir has seventy voices, conduction by Christine Duncan. They don't sing much, but chant and groan and swoon along with an improv group that features trumpet (Jim Lewis), pipe organ (Eric Robertson), two basses (Parker and Andrew Downing), and drums/percussion (Jean Martin). Not quite sure what to make of it all. [6]

William Parker/Conny Bauer/Hamid Drake: Tender Exploration (2010, Jazzwerkstatt -13) Recorded at Roulette in New York, three titles each named for a trio member, probably pure improv. Bauer is a German avant-trombonist (aka Konrad or Conrad), been around since the early 1970s, notably in Zentralquartett. He's not a commanding soloist, but adds all sorts of sounds and colors to one of the most relentlessly creative bass-drums duo ever. [8]

David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali: Planetary Unknown (2010, AUM Fidelity -11) More progress: a new quartet with older players than the old quartet, the old fire too. [9]

David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York 2010 (2010, AUM Fidelity 2CD -17) Another posthumous tape for the late tenor sax giant, this one a year after his kidney transplant and about two years before he died. So it's worth noting that he's in remarkable form here, with a couple of solo stretches (some on stritch), but especially when William Parker (bass) and Warren Smith (drums) help out. [9]

David S. Ware Trio: The Balance (Vision Festival XV+) (2009-10, AUM Fidelity -18) Tenor saxophonist, Ayler school, his long-running Quartet exemplified free jazz in the 1990s, died in 2012 after kidney problems. Fourth posthumous release, combining a Vision Festival performance with out-takes from Onecept, both with William Parker (bass) and Warren Smith (drums). [8]

James Brandon Lewis: Divine Travels (2011, Okeh -14) Tenor saxophonist, from Buffalo, second album, a trio with William Parker and Gerald Cleaver, weaving free sax around more traditional patterns. [9]

Joe Morris/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Altitude (2011 [2012], AUM Fidelity): Guitar-bass-drums trio, with Parker switching to sintir (a Moroccan bass lute), live improv recorded one night at the Stone in NYC, four tracks stretched out to 72:27. B+(**) [sp]

Ivo Perelman: Serendipity (2011, Leo -13) Another tenor sax quartet, reportedly accidental: session was originally scheduled to be trio with Matthew Shipp (piano) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) -- that trio was recorded a week later as The Foreign Legion -- but when one was late they called in bassist William Parker and wound up with a quartet. Sometimes hard to judge exactly what Parker adds, but Perelman is remarkably relaxed and fluid from the start, and builds up to some of his most impressive blowing ever. [9]

Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Beans/Hprizm: Knives From Heaven (2011, Thirsty Ear) Basically, an Antipop Consortium joint, with Beans (Robert Stewart) rapping over High Priest (Kyle Austin, here dba Hprizm) electronics, with Shipp's piano and Parker's bass keeping it real. (Also seem to have cornered the publishing.) Would go further with better rhymes, although most of the parts without lyrics are intriguing synth fragments, the piano a plus, the bass hard to sort out. [6]

Mikko Innanen: Song for a New Decade (2010-12, TUM 2CD -15) Finnish saxophonist, alto and baritone, plus a few odd instruments here and there (Indian clarinet, Uilleann chanter, nose flute, whistles, percussion). Should be better known, and after this will be. Two discs: the first with William Parker on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums, pretty much everything an avant-saxophonist could dream of; the second a little leaner, just a duo with Cyrille. [9]

Thollem/Parker/Cline: The Gowanus Session (2012, Porter) Thollem McDonas is a pianist from San Francisco, has played on 20-some albums since 2005; might file half under his name, since his specialties seem to be solo and duo sets. The others are bassist William Parker and guitarist Nels Cline. Group improv, broken into six tracks but pretty much one movement, with a lot of rough spots along the way. [8]

Thollem McDonas/William Parker/Nels Cline: Gowanus Sessions II (2012, ESP-Disk -20) Piano/bass/guitar, the cover listing only the former's first name (as usual), the others' surnames. Leftovers from their 2012 album, two LP-sized jams (18:42/18:49). Cline doesn't do much other than add color here. [7]

William Parker Orchestra: Essence of Ellington: Live in Milano (2012, AUM Fidelity 2CD) Big band, only two deep at trumpet and trombone but six saxes including Kidd Jordan, fęted as "special guest" although half the orchestra are more famous (or should be), especially the rhythm section: Dave Burrell, Parker, and Hamid Drake. This mixes Ellington standards with originals where Parker seeks what he calls "essences" -- a license to quote and maul and occasionally find some sort of synthesis. When the band eventually converges on a melody, Ernie Odoom sings familiar lyrics or, in "The Essence of Ellington," totally new ones. Messy, but also chock full of wonderful passages. Surely Duke would agree: beyond category. [9]

William Parker: Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012 (2006-12, AUM Fidelity 8CD -13) Got this box after reviewing three-fourths of it as digital releases -- that much appeared on Rhapsody -- then discovered much later that while I wrote this up for my year-end list I neglected it here. Let's focus on the two discs I missed: a septet live at the Vision Festival in 2009 with Billy Bang, Bobby Bradford, and James Spaulding joining Parker's stellar Quartet (Lewis Barnes, Rob Brown, and Hamid Drake -- they've been together since the extraordinary O'Neal's Porch in 2000); and a big band (William Parker Creation Ensemble) live shot at AMR Jazz Festival in Geneva in 2011. Both discs zing, as does, really, the rest of the box. The two early live sets weren't as consistent as I'd like (cf. 2005's Sound Unity), but their top spots are rarely equalled, and the last two discs -- an expansion of the group that cut Raining on the Moon and a revival of In Order to Survive with an outstanding performance by Cooper-Moore on piano -- just raise the bar. Music at this level deserves to go on and on and on. [10]

William Parker Quartet: Live in Wroclove (2012 [2013], ForTune): The bassist's "pianoless" quartet, which dates back at least to 2001's O'Neal's Porch, with two freewheeling horns -- Lewis Barnes' trumpet and Rob Brown's alto sax -- and great Hamid Drake on drums. So this is a great band, with some interesting music -- starting with a 47:33 set called "Kalaparusha Dancing on the Edge of the Horizon" -- but it's also a concert, where they pace themselves to set up the moments fans will recall. It's also kind of a big deal for a label that mostly documents the local scene -- in this case, better known as Wroclaw. But it's a tad less compelling than the group's studio albums. B+(***) [sp]

Matthew Shipp: Greatest Hits (2000-2012, Thirsty Ear -13) Before 2000 Shipp had established himself as one of the avant-garde's most rigorous pianists through a series of often startling duo and trio albums -- mostly duos. Most were on the usual obscure European labels, but a couple -- ranging from the tedious 2-Z with Roscoe Mitchell to the superb Zo with bassist William Parker -- came out on a postrock label in Connecticut. Thirsty Ear wound up hiring Shipp to curate "The Blue Series": think of them as postrock crossovers made by Shipp's avant chums plus a few secretly admiring DJs. Early on, the series tracked public interest in "jazztronica" -- but unlike the previous decade's "acid jazz" fad or the later dabblings of more-or-less mainstream figures ranging from Nicholas Payton to Dave Douglas -- Shipp's series never felt like a compromise. But later on, Shipp seemed to grow weary of the electronics and tried to reassert himself as an acoustic jazz pianist (especially on the solos One and 4D and the mixed solo-trio Art of the Improviser). Of course, nothing he did was a "hit" in the pop sense, but these dozen cuts from eleven albums both hit the high points and drive home the primacy of his piano. [9]

Jeremy Danneman: Lady Boom Boom (2013 [2015], Ropeadope): Saxophonist, played alto, tenor, clarinet, and more in three sessions that produced as many albums, released on a label that appreciates a good groove and is careless about who played what when in which order. But the personnel could do that and more: William Parker (not just bass), Anders Nilsson (guitar), and Timothy Keiper (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Jeremy Danneman: Help (2013 [2015], Ropeadope): More from the same sessions. B+(**) [sp]

Tony Malaby Tamarindo: Somos Aqua (2013, Clean Feed -14) Avant tenor saxophonist, tends to shine especially bright as a sideman but has a couple dozen albums under his name, including one this trio is named for. Trio, with William Parker on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums, who do what you expect. Malaby is often terrific as well, even on his soprano, featured a bit too much. [8]

Ivo Perelman: Book of Sound (2013, Leo -14) Sax trio with William Parker on bass but no drummer -- pianist Matthew Shipp has to suffice, but he plays as though there is no such thing as the drummer's job. Terrific pianist, of course -- no one has more experience comping behind avant-sax greats (e.g., David S. Ware). Not sure Perelman is one, but he's very good, and has developed a technique with short curved lines, kind of like Van Gogh's maddest strokes. [8]

William Parker: For Those Who Are, Still (2000-13 [2013], AUM Fidelity, 3CD): By this time, Parker has become so prolific he's building boxes from scattered sets: this one is formally organized into three albums from five sessions: "For Fannie Hammer" from 2000; "Vermeer," with Leena Conquest, from 2011; "Red Giraffe With Dreadlocks," with Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, from 2012; a Charles Gayle trio, to open "Ceremonies for Those Who Are Still," with NFM Orchestra and Choir. A- [r]

Jeremy Danneman: Lost Signals (2013 [2016], Ropeadope): Same group, same sessions for a third album, with groove appeal informed by third world interests. A- [sp]

John Dikeman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Live at La Resistenza (2014, El Negocito -15) Dikeman plays alto and tenor saxophone. He was born in Nebraska in 1983, grew up in Wyoming, tried New York, then Cairo and Budapest before settling into Amsterdam. A rather squawky free player, he has a group called Cactus Truck that I've yet to be impressed by. This is a standard free sax trio cut live in Ghent, Belgium -- the sort of thing Parker and Drake could do in their sleep, but never do. [8]

Charles Gayle/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz (2014, Jazzwerkstatt -15) The leader plays tenor sax on the 28:16 opener, piano on the next three pieces (total 27:54), and returns with his sax for the 10:14 encore. His sax is an old story, raw and searching, and his piano embodies the same spirit. [8]

Jason Kao Hwang: Voice (2014, Innova -16) Opera, with music by the violinist, words from various poets, voiced by Deanna Relyea for the first half, Thomas Buckner on the backstretch. Several pieces were commissioned and premiered in 2010-12, but it's not clear if these were recorded then or later. Relyea is so extreme she's almost a caricature of a diva -- I couldn't stand her until I had to laugh. Buckner is more spoken voice, tolerable but also rather dramatic. The music is interesting when it breaks free of the voices. The first half is backed by Taylor Ho Bynum's trio plus Piotr Michalowski (sopranino sax, bass clarinet) and Hwang; the second by Joe McPhee, William Parker, Sang Won Park (kayagung, ajam, voice), and Hwang. [6]

Oliver Lake/William Parker: To Roy (2014, Intakt -15) Dedicated to the late trumpet player Roy Campbell, who otherwise seems to have little to do with proceedings -- except, perhaps, for the somber tone. Or maybe that's just Parker's bass taking charge, a fair match for Lake's voluble alto sax. [9]

William Parker/David Budbill: What I Saw This Morning 2014 [2016], AUM Fidelity): Budbill (1940-2016) was mostly a writer, posthumously named "the people's poet of Vermont," also wrote plays, two novels, a libretto, and recorded three albums of spoken word with William Parker providing the music, here mostly using his exotic instruments. Comparable to David Greenberger, but more intimate and personal. [Streamed 14/35 tracks.] B+(***) [bc]

Steve Swell's Kende Dreams: Hommage ŕ Bartók (2014, Silkheart -15) The trombonist's liner notes clearly say the album title is Kende Dreams, but that apostrophe on the cover has misdirected pretty much everyone. A kende is an ancient Hungarian religious figure, one eclipsed by the warriors so prominent since Atilla the Hun. Supposedly Béla Bartók drew on this history as well as the complex rhythms of east-central Europe, but no Bartók is played here (unless pianist Connie Crothers slipped some in). Rather, you get a quintet with two horns -- the leader's trombone and Rob Brown's alto sax -- complementing each other, and all the support anyone could hope for from William Parker and Chad Taylor. [9]

Peter Brötzmann/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale (2015 [2016], Otoroku): The bassist and drummer are inventive as ever, while the tenor saxophonist blasts away, even when he switches up on clarinet or tarogato. Nothing obviously sentimental about it. B+(***) [bc]

Dave Cappello & Jeff Albert With William Parker: New Normal (2015 [2016], Breakfast 4 Dinner): Drummer, doesn't have much except for duo and quartet work with the trombonist (who I know mostly from a group he co-led with Jeb Bishop), but evidently he got started playing with guitarist Bern Nix (who goes back to the 1970s Loft Scene, but is best known for his work with Ornette Coleman, and maybe James Chance). So Nix, who died in 2017, might have provided a connection to Parker, who adds bass and wood flute, elevating everyone's game. B+(***) [sp]

Jeremy Danneman and Sophie Nzayisenga: Honey Wine (2015 [2017], Ropeadope): The saxophonist has an organization/project called "Parade of One," slogan "engaging the internationa community with street performance." He met Nzayisenga in Rwanda, where she plays inanga and sings, and arranged to bring her to New York to record. Visa problems delayed that until here, where they are joined by William Parker (bass) and Tim Keiper (drums). A groove delight. A- [sp]

Stephen Haynes: Pomegranate (2015, New Atlantis) Cornet player, recorded a trio album called Parrhesia in 2010 with Joe Morris (guitar) and Warren Smith (percussion), and expands that group for a tribute, adding William Parker (bass) and Ben Stapp (tuba) because "Bill Dixon loved the low end, and would have dug this instrumentation." Dixon would no doubt dig the fractured abstractions too, but I get more from Morris' solos (and Smith's vibes). [7]

William Parker: Stan's Hat Flapping in the Wind (2015, Centering/AUM Fidelity -16) Actually just Parker's compositions, performed by Lisa Sokolov (voice) and Cooper-Moore (piano), with a bit of cello on a piece dedicated to the late David S. Ware (other dedications for Miguel Pińero, Ornette Coleman, and Butch Morris). Remarkable singer, although Parker's songs may be too straightforward for her. Helluva pianist, too. [7]

Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (2015, RogueArt -16) Avant-trombonist, quintet adds Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Dave Burrell (piano), William Parker (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums), each adding something distinctive and remarkable to the mix. Still, I always enjoy a good trombone lead, of which there are many. Looks like this only came out on vinyl, so runs to a respectable length (4 cuts, 43:40). [9]

Assif Tsahar/William Parker/Hamid Drake: In Between the Tumbling a Stillness (2015, Hopscotch -18) Tenor sax trio, recorded at the leader's club in Tel Aviv with the best rhythm section one could hope for, as good as they get. The saxophonist is equally poised, opening long at 34:22, followed by shorter pieces (14:59, 4:29) that flow together. [10]

Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker: Toxic: This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People (2015, ESP-Disk -17) Polish alto saxophonist (also bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, flute), with piano and bass legends; Walerian's third album for the label, each with a group name that I've slid into the title (not that it makes much sense this time). Five long pieces, 79:11. Leader strikes me as more tentative here than on the previous albums, but Shipp and Parker think of lots of ways to amuse themselves. [7]

William Parker Quartets: Meditation/Resurrection (2016, AUM Fidelity 2CD -17) The bassist has run two quartet configurations over many years: his freewheeling two-horn Quartet with Rob Brown (alto sax) and Lewis Barnes (trumpet), the latter replaced here by Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson, and the group In Order to Survive with Brown and pianist Cooper-Moore -- both groups with Hamid Drake on drums. One full disc of each here, and while the new trumpet player doesn't match the old one, Cooper-Moore is as breathtaking as ever. [9]

Ivo Perelman/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 4 (2016, Leo) The bassist makes a difference here, setting up a groove (or at least momentum) that keeps the sax man on his toes, bobbing and weaving, never far from the edge. Moreover, he can go loud without knocking the leader out, so he has no need to hold back (as the pianists have done). [9]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume 1: Titan (2016, Leo -17) The first of a trove of seven separately issued discs pairing the Brazilian avant saxophonist with the American pianist -- frequent collaborators since 1996's Bendito of Santa Cruz -- with various rhythm sections. Seems like the ideal might be to listen to all of them then start to make whatever marginal distinctions I can find, but for practical purposes all I can do is take them one-by-one and hope I don't get too lost. This one is a trio with William Parker, who in Perelman's 2016 The Art of the Improv Trio lifted Volume 4. He gets this series off to a strong start, too. [9]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume 3: Pandora (2016, Leo -17) Quartet here, with William Parker on bass and Whit Dickey on drums, a piano trio that backed David S. Ware back in the early 1990s. This isn't as exciting: Perelman would rather work his way around the edges than channel the Holy Ghost, so the group doesn't push him. Still fascinating to follow. [9]

Daniel Carter/William Parker/Matthew Shipp: Seraphic Light (2017 [2018], AUM Fidelity) Mostly an alto saxophonist, Carter is also credited here with flute, trumpet, clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones. Not nearly as famous as his bassist and pianist, he is actually older, and has played on quite a few of their better albums, including in Parker's Other Dimensions in Music quartet. No drummer here, so Shipp takes a strong rhythmic role, with Parker fattening the sound and occasionally taking charge. Not one of Carter's flashier performances, but he adds color and flavor. [9]

Patricia Nicholson/William Parker: Hope Cries for Justice (2017 [2018], Centering) Wife and husband, the former a dancer and organizer of New York's annual Vision Festival. Discogs credits her with a couple of vocal performances, but this is where she steps out front with her spoken-word poetry accompanied by Parker's donso n'goni and bass. I never really get the spirit/myth stuff, but won't fault her cry for hope and justice. Parker is restrained, otherwise he'd steal the show. [8]

William Parker: Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics (2017 [2018], Gotta Let It Out) Four musicians -- Parker, Jeff Schlanger, Anne Humanfeld, Leonid Galaganov -- playing Parker compositions on AquaSonic waterphones invented by Jackson Krall. The instrument can be bowed or struck, so this bears some resemblance to a cello/percussion group, but higher pitched, with extra resonance due to the water. Leans toward noise to start, but grows from there to become quite haunting. [8]

William Parker/In Order to Survive: Live/Shapeshifter (2017, AUM Fidelity -2CD -19) Quartet, named for the bassist's 1995 album with Rob Brown (alto sax) and Cooper-Moore (piano), recorded several albums in late 1990s with Susie Ibarra on drums. Parker went with Hamid Drake on drums for his post-2000 pianoless quartets (with Lewis Barnes on trumpet and Brown on alto sax). He kept Drake when he reconvened IOTS in 2012, and in 2016 recorded a 2-CD album to showcase the two quartets (Meditation/Resurrection). The star has always been Cooper-Moore, who remains as distinctive as ever. [9]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Bobby Kapp: Heptagon (2017, Leo) Tenor sax backed by piano-bass-drums: Shipp has been a nearly constant companion of late, with the pair releasing seven volumes of The Art of Perelman-Shipp back in March. The best one then was a quartet with Shipp's everyday trio (Michael Bisio and Whit Dickey), but Shipp's played even more with Parker and brought Kapp back from obscurity for a superb duo in 2016 (Cactus; Kapp first made his mark with the other great avant-garde saxophonist from South America, the late Gato Barbieri). Superb all around. [9]

Bobby Zankel & the Wonderful Sound 6: Celebrating William Parker @ 65 (2017, Not Two) Alto saxophonist, a couple years older than the famous bassist -- on board here, an event in Philadelphia, along with Steve Swell (trombone), Diane Monroe (violin), Dave Burrell (piano), and Muhammad Ali (drums). Old-fashioned avant joust, something the bassist has presided over many times. [7]

Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (2018 [2020], Grizzley Music): Drums, organ, and saxophones/flute. Ten songs, all by William Parker -- a bit surprising, given the lack of avant frills. Parker's long struck me as a composer who likes to keep it simple, which is why his tunes hold up in such a different context. B+(***) [cd] [07-17]

Whit Dickey Tao Quartets: Peace Planet/Box of Light (2018, AUM Fidelity -2CD -19) Drummer, has a long association with Matthew Shipp, including a stint in David S. Ware's famous Quartet. Two quartets, one disc each: the first with Rob Brown (alto sax), Shipp (piano), and William Parker (bass); the other with Brown, Steve Swell (trombone), and Michael Bisio (bass). Noticed last year that multi-disc releases fare well in EOY polls, which may explain why they seem to be becoming the rule, leaving me with the problem of deciding whether to grade the stronger or weaker disc. Swell is impressive enough here, but Brown doesn't do much working around him. On the other hand, Brown is terrific on the first, probably because Shipp sets him up so well. [8]

Okuden Quartet [Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Hamid Drake]: Every Dog Has His Day but It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (2018 [2020], ESP-Disk): Alto saxophonist, also plays bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, and flute. Fourth album, all with Shipp on piano, second quartet with Parker (bass) and Drake (drums) -- really hit the jackpot of rhythm sections. Free jazz, nice balance spread over eight Walerian originals (ranging from 10:54 to 18:21), room for the stars as well as the leader.. A- [cd]

William Parker: Voices Fall From the Sky (1993-2018 [2018], AUM Fidelity, 3CD) Legendary bassist, has composed hundreds of pieces since 1971 (the earliest date here), occasionally songs with lyrics like his 1991-93 Song Cycle, which provides the earliest songs here. Results have been decidedly mixed -- by far my favorite is the Raining on the Moon group with Leena Conquest. The old recordings on CD-2 suggest a compilation, but nearly everything else has been recorded over 2017 sessions (lapping into January 2018), so the set is much more new than not. Parker uses various musicians and no less than 17 vocalists -- some I recognize from past efforts or from their own notable jazz careers (like Fay Victor), but many I don't. It would take me many hours to sort this all out, but the main thing I'm struck by in two passes is how much of it I never want to hear again: operatic sopranos, arch art-song, avant-warbling. Doesn't all grate, but enough does to make me want to move on. [5]

William Parker: Flower in a Stained-Glass Window/The Blinking of the Ear (2018, Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD) Two albums packed together, continuing the bassist's recent interest in singers. The first features Leena Conquest, mostly declaiming slogan-worthy political screeds, things I mostly agree with but are mixed blessings as music. The band -- five piece including Steve Swell on trombone, plus two extra alto saxes on three pieces -- is quite interesting on its own. Second is another quintet -- Swell again, Daniel Carter, Eri Yamamoto on piano -- is if anything more potent, but I find mezzo soprano AnnMarie Sandy harder to listen to. [7]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Bobby Kapp: Ineffable Joy (2018, ESP-Disk -19) Brazilian avant-saxophonist, only three releases (6-CD) this year on his usual label (Leo), decided to diversify and follow his pianist to the latest iteration of the famous 1960s DIY label, citing an early Gato Barbieri release on same. With bass and drums from old Shipp associates, he couldn't ask for a more robust rhythm section. [8]

Dave Sewelson: Music for a Free World (2017, FMR -18): Baritone saxophonist (also sopranino), first album with his name up front but he's been around a while: I think I first noticed him in Microscopic Septet (or maybe its Fast 'N' Bulbous spin-off), but he's also been in William Parker's orchestras and is on a couple albums with Peter Kuhn. Freewheeling two-horn quartet here, with Steve Swell (trombone) facing off, Parker on bass, and Marvin Smith on drums. A little ragged, but freedom's like that. [9]

Dave Sewelson: More Music for a Free World (2018 [2020], Mahakala Music): Baritone saxophonist, first album the precursor this is more of, but I've been aware of him for a while, in groups like Microscopic Septet, Fast 'N' Bulbous, and William Parker's big bands. Quartet with Steve Swell (trombone), Parker (bass), and Marvin Bugalu Smith (drums). Two long improv pieces, a shorter one to close. A-

Steve Swell Quintet Soul Travelers With Leena Conquest: Astonishments (2018 [2020], RogueArt): Trombonist, the most accomplished of his generation, leads an all-star group: Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Dave Burrell (piano), William Parker (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums). The vocalist, who's most often worked with Parker, has a couple of spots, skittering expertly around the tricky music. The title cut features a list of astonishing but lately departed musicians. Great to hear those names. A [cd]

Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (2019 [2020], 577): Leader plays tenor sax, trumpet, and flute, backed by a rhythm section that's great on paper and bound to Carter by decades of friendship. Big splash up front, tails off a bit toward the end. B+(***)

Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 2 (2019 [2022], 577): Label likes to do these staged 2-volume deals, with Vol. 1 out back in 2020. Carter is credited with saxophones and clarinet; the others you know (piano, bass, drums). B+(**) [dl]

Dopolarians: Garden Party (2019, Mahakala): Sextet, or merger of trios: one (relatively young) cluster is made up of Chris Parker (piano), Chad Fowler (alto sax), and Kelley Hurt (voice), and they do most of the writing; the other is well known: Kidd Jordan (tenor sax), William Parker (bass), and Alvin Fielder (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Frode Gjerstad/Fred Lonberg-Holm/William Parker/Steve Swell: Tales From (2019 [2020], Fundacja Sluchaj): No credits, but typically sax (alto, I think), cello/electronics, bass, trombone -- the latter two fill ins for a plan that originally called for Matthew Shipp. Lonberg-Holm came best prepared, while the others do what they usually do. B+(**) [bc]

Edward "Kidd" Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: A Tribute to Alvin Fielder: Live at Vision Festival XXIV (2019 [2020], Mahakala Music): Fielder (1935-2019) was a drummer, born in Mississippi, a charter member of AACM, only one record as leader but a fair number, especially with Jordan (tenor sax) and/or Futterman (piano), who are the stars in this 45:03 blow out. Kidd's closing comments are every bit as good. B+(***)

Paula Shocron/William Parker/Pablo Díaz: El Templo (2019 [2021], Astral Spirits): Pianist from Argentina, opens with deft runs before bringing out the strong chords that drive these four pieces. Disappointing when she back off, but then you remember who the bassist is. A- [bc]

Dopolarians: Garden Party (2019, Mahakala) Sextet, or merger of trios: one (relatively young) cluster is made up of Chris Parker (piano), Chad Fowler (alto sax), and Kelley Hurt (voice), and they do most of the writing; the other is well known: Kidd Jordan (tenor sax), William Parker (bass), and Alvin Fielder (drums). [8]

Hamid Drake/Elaine Mitchener/William Parker/Orphy Robinson/Pat Thomas: Black Top Presents: Some Good News (2019 [2021], Otoroku, 2CD): Some convoluted parsing here: Black Top is a duo of Robinson (marimba) and Thomas (piano), both also electronics, but since they're listed separately on the credit line, their place here seemed to be in the title. (They have two previous albums, each with a special guest.) Drake and Parker you know. Mitchener is a vocalist. How you react to her chatterbox scat will make or break the album. Everyone else is predictably brilliant, and when she finds a groove, she's pretty delightful too. B+(**)

Christopher Parker & the Band of Guardian Angels: Soul Food (2019 [2021], Mahakala Music): Pianist, from Little Rock, but recorded this group in Brooklyn, with Jaimie Branch (trumpet), Daniel Carter (winds), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), and wife Kelley Hurt (vocals). I could do without the vocals, but the band lives up to its reputation. B+(**) [sp]

Christopher Parker & the Band of Guardian Angels: Yeah Yeah! (2019 [2023], Mahakala Music): Pianist from Little Rock, wife Kelley Hurt sings, recorded this in Brooklyn with Daniel Carter (winds) and Jaimie Branch (trumpet), backed by William Parker (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). Piano is impressive. The others are all over the place. B+(**) [sp]

Whit Dickey/William Parker/Matthew Shipp: Village Mothership (2020 [2021], Tao Forms): Drums-bass-piano trio, joint song credits so auteurs listed alphabetically, though it may help that the drummer has raised his profile significantly over the last couple years (also that this is his label). Shipp honors him with some of his most percussive playing. A- [cd]

Joel Futterman/William Parker: Why (2020 [2024], Soul City Sounds): Piano and bass duo. Futterman started in Chicago, moved to Virginia Beach in 1972, and started recording in 1979, becoming increasingly prolific in the 1990s. He's a very distinctive pianist, and Parker is as robust as ever. [8] [sp]

Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Artificial Happiness Button (2020, Ropeadope): Jazz-poetry group, the latter mostly Thomas Sayers Ellis, although other voices predominate (most female). Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is the other principal here, with four more names on the second line, and various guests (including William Parker and Jaimie Branch). Reminds me of Funkadelic as a community, but the funk is much bent and twisted, the messages mixed and sometimes oblique, but the interludes are transcendent. A-

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: Jesup Wagon (2020 [2021], Tao Forms): Tenor saxophonist, always impressive, means to pay homage to George Washington Carver (1864-1943), but see the booklet for that. A blindfold test puts him closer to David S. Ware, aside for the change-of-pace closer ("Chemurgy"), my favorite piece here. With Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Chris Hoffman (cello), William Parker (bass/gibri), and Chad Taylor (drums/mbira). [was: A-] A [cd]

Francisco Mela Featuring Matthew Shipp and William Parker: Music Frees Our Souls (2020 [2021], 577): Cuban drummer, studied at Berklee, close to 10 albums as leader since 2008. You know the others. B+(***) [bc]

William Parker/Patricia Nicholson: No Joke! (2019-20 [2021], ESP-Disk): Bassist, very prolific, already has several of the year's best albums, with his wife adding spoken word over the brash free jazz, smacks a bit of preaching to the choir but nothing you shouldn't hear. Band includes saxophonists James Brandon Lewis and Devin Brahja Waldman, with Melanie Dyer's viola prominent on three cuts. A- [cd]

William Parker: Painter's Winter (2020 [2021], AUM Fidelity): Title a reference back to the bassist's 2000 album Painter's Spring, reconvening the same trio: Daniel Carter (trumpet, alto/tenor sax, clarinet, flute) and Hamid Drake (drums). Carter pokes around the edges, rarely taking charge, which is fine given how strong the bass lines are. A-

William Parker: Mayan Space Station (2020 [2021], AUM Fidelity): Another trio, unlike anything in Parker's enormous catalog, as it features a guitarist (Ava Mendoza), with Gerald Cleaver on drums. Mendoza has a fair number of albums since 2013, including a similar trio led by William Hooker. Mendoza is impressive, someone I should look into further, but the fusion moves don't quite seem right here. [PS: Parker does have an earlier g-b-d trio with Raoul Björkenheim and Hamid Drake, DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (2008), but it's less of a fusion move.] B+(***)

William Parker: Trencadis: A Selection From Migration Into and Out of the Tone World (2019-20 [2021], Centering): Bassist, has released massive works before -- e.g., the 8-CD Wood Flute Songs in 2013 -- but this year's 10-CD box is unusual both for its size and the short time involved. I received a promo sampler in January, but didn't bother as it didn't look like product, as I resigned myself to missing his magnum opus. However, this sampler does now seem to have an independent existence, at least as a digital album. No idea who plays or sings (most songs have vocals), and I continue to have doubts and frustrations about the utility. B+(**)

Luís Vicente/John Dikeman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Goes Without Saying, but It's Got to Be Said (2020, JACC): Trumpet, tenor sax, bass, drums. Note says "recorded live at ZDB by Kellzo on the 19th July 2020." No idea where that is, or how they managed to get musicians from Portugal, Netherlands, and US together. The horn players have been on the free jazz scene for a while, but nothing like the world's greatest bass-drums team for inspiration. A-

Anne Waldman: Sciamachy (2020, Fast Speaking Music): Poet, 40-some books, recorded an album with John Giorno in 1977, has several more since 2011 with nephew Devin Brahja Waldman producing and playing sax, with spots here for Ambrose Bye (synth), William Parker (n'goni), Laurie Anderson (violin), and others. B+(**) [sc]

Zoh Amba: O Life, O Light Vol. 2 (2021 [2023], 577): Tenor saxophonist from Tennessee, plays some flute, burst onto the scene in 2022 with a half dozen albums of explosive free jazz, as if Albert Ayler had descended from the heavens and taken up improbable earthly form. The one I missed was the first part of this set, with William Parker on bass (and gralla) and Francisco Mela on drums. Two tracks, 39:25. I was reminded of this when I read a review bemoaning the drop from Vol. 1. I can't imagine how the previous album could have caused that remark. B+(***) [bc]

Daniel Carter/Leo Genovese/William Parker/Francisco Mela: Shine Hear Vol. 1 (2021 [2023], 577): Sax, piano, bass, drums, with Carter and Parker (who also plays gralla and shakuhachi) going way back. B+(**) [dl]

Andrew Cyrille/William Parker/Enrico Rava: 2 Blues for Cecil (2021 [2022], TUM): Drums, bass, flugelhorn. "Cecil," of course, is Taylor, the late pianist. The title tracks are jointly credited, as are two improvisations, with each contributing additional pieces, ending with a cover of "My Funny Valentine." None of which is especially reminiscent of Taylor. A- [cd]

Dopolarians: The Bond (2021, Mahakala): Free jazz group, originally from Arkansas (Chad Fowler on alto sax and Christopher Parker on piano), picked up a singer in Memphis (Kelley Hurt) and wound up in New Orleans, adding Marc Franklin (trumpet) and ringers William Parker and Brian Blade for this record. Hurt enters in a relatively quiet spot around the 7-minute mark, intonating with the band rather than singing over it (which makes her a minor presence here). That first piece runs 21:15, and the second is longer (30:22), ending with a shorter one (9:42). B+(***)

William Parker/Cooper-Moore/Hamid Drake: Heart Trio (2021 [2024], AUM Fidelity): Longtime collaborators, three-fourths of a quartet called In Order to Survive, where they played bass, piano, and drums. Here they focus on percussion and exotica, with Parker on doson ngoni, shakuhachi, bass dudek, ney and Serbian flute, with Cooper-Moore on his ashimba and hoe-handle harp, and Drake on frame drum as well as his usual kit. For world-class virtuosi, it's a bit underwhelming, but that seems to be the point. A- [cd] [06-21]

William Parker & Ellen Christi: Cereal Music (2024, AUM Fidelity): No recording dates given, but this feels like it was patiently assembled, starting with Parker's words, mostly spoken with some Christi vocals and whatever sound design she came up with, supplemented with Parker's bass and flutes, and a few other samples. B+(***)

Charlie Apicella & Iron City Meet The Griots Speak: Destiny Calling (2022 [2023], OA2): Guitarist, eighth album, usually plays groove-oriented fusion/soul jazz (his 2019 album was called Groove Machine), surprises here by hooking up with "legends of the 1960s NYC loft scene": Daniel Carter (saxes, flute, clarinet, trumpet, piano), William Parker (bass, doson ngoni), and Juma Sultan (congas, percussion). He means 1970s (Sultan was born in 1942, Carter 1945, Parker 1952). B+(***) [cd]

Dopolarians: Blues for Alvin Fielder: Live at Crosstown Arts, Memphis (2022, Mahakala Music): A tribute to the late drummer (1935-2019), who was born in Mississippi, headed to Chicago, played with Sun Ra, was a charter member of the AACM, eventually returned to the South, and plugged into the tiny free jazz scenes in New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas, and (joining this group in 2018) Little Rock. Billed here as a sextet, core members are Christopher Parker (piano), Chad Fowler (sax), Kelly Hurt (vocals), and Chad Anderson (drums, taking over Fielder's chair), joined here by Marc Franklin (trumpet), Douglas Ewart (sax), and William Parker (bass). Ends with a nice dedication. B+(**) [bc]

Dopolarians: Sunday Morning Sermon (2022, Mahakala Music): No recording date, but obviously before drummer Alvin Fielder died in 2019. Core group is Christopher Parker (piano), Chad Fowler (alto/baritone sax), and Kelley Hurt (vocals), with Fielder on drums and Kidd Jordan on tenor sax. Bassist William Parker is listed on the cover, but not on the Bandcamp page. The piano solos cut down on the fire-breathing, which is probably just as well. B+(**) [bc]

Chad Fowler/William Parker/Anders Griffen: Broken Unbroken (2022, Mahakala Music): Arkansas-based free jazz saxophonist, dials it back a bit here by playing stritch, saxello, and alto flute. Backed by bass and drums, with Griffen also playing some trumpet. B+(***) [bc]

Chad Fowler/William Parker/Anders Griffen: Thinking Unthinking (2022, Mahakala Music): Same group, probably same session, three more pieces (47:58). B+(***) [bc]

Chad Fowler/Ivo Perelman/Zoh Amba/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Steve Hirsh: Alien Skin (2022, Mahakala Music): An impromptu session, with three saxophonists -- Fowler plays stritch and saxello, Amba and Perelman tenor, with Amba also on flute -- backed by piano, bass, and drums. Starts off cautiously with a bass solo. Still, impossible to keep this much firepower down. Invigorating when they bust out, intriguing when they hold back a bit. A- [sp]

Joel Futterman/William Parker/Chad Fowler/Steve Hirsh: The Deep (2022, Mahakala Music): Piano, bass, sax, drums, playing one 51:56 piece, recorded in one take. Enough going on that the piano explosions stand out even more. A- [bc]

Dave Sewelson/William Parker/Steve Hirsch: The Gate (2022, Mahakala Music): Baritone saxophonist, best known for his work with Microscopic Septet and in William Parker's Little Huey Orchestra, but he ventured out on his own in 2018 with Music for a Free World, and it's been all aces since. Just a basic trio with bass and drums here. B+(***) [sp]

Sparks Quartet [Eri Yamamoto/Chad Fowler/William Parker/Steve Hirsh]: Live at Vision Festival XXVI (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music) Piano, sax/flute, bass, drums; quartet released an album as Sparks in 2022, so are following it up with a live set here. B+(**) [bc]

Eri Yamamoto/Chad Fowler/William Parker/Steve Hirsh: Sparks (2022, Mahakala Music): Japanese pianist, has had a close relationship with Parker (bass) since she moved to New York. Hirsh plays drums, with Fowler playing stritch and saxello, instruments which dial back his sound just enough to make clear how inventive he can be. A- [bc]

Eri Yamamoto: Colors of the Night Trio (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music): Japanese pianist, moved to US in 1995, played on several William Parker projects, plus her own (mostly trio) records since 2001. This is another trio, with Parker on bass and Ikuo Takeuchi on drums. B+(**) [sp]

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: For Mahalia, With Love [Expanded Edition] (2023, Tao Forms, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, formed this group for his poll-winning 2021 album Jesup Wagon, reconvenes with Kirk Knuffke (trumpet), Chris Hoffman (cello), William Parker (bass), and Chad Taylor (drums), to play his arrangements of a set of trad. gospel pieces tied to Mahalia Jackson, but with no vocals, as nothing else can be as sanctified as his instrument. The digital album ends there (9 tracks, 71:32), and as long as it stays on track, it's as inspired as any gospel program since David Murray's Spirituals. The 2-CD package adds a second album, These Are Soulful Days, a suite (8 tracks, 47:24) that starts out as an interesting strings piece, played by Lutoslawski Quartet, with Lewis joining in and eventually dominating -- about as good as sax-with-strings gets. [There's also a 2-LP package of the album proper, with a download code for the bonus.] A [cd]

Francisco Mela Featuring Cooper-Moore and William Parker: Music Frees Our Souls Vol. 2 (2020 [2023], 577): Cuban drummer, went to Berklee in 2000, early records more obviously Latin, but has knocked out several free jazz sets recently. This has Cooper-Moore on piano and Parker on bass, for two side-long improvs, plus a couple spare bits for the digital. B+(***) [dl]

Eri Yamamoto: Colors of the Night Trio (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music): Japanese pianist, moved to US in 1995, played on several William Parker projects, plus her own (mostly trio) records since 2001. This is another trio, with Parker on bass and Ikuo Takeuchi on drums. B+(**) [sp]

William Parker & Ellen Christi: Cereal Music (2024, AUM Fidelity) No recording dates given, but this feels like it was patiently assembled, starting with Parker's words, mostly spoken with some Christi vocals and whatever sound design she came up with, supplemented with Parker's bass and flutes, and a few other samples. B+(***) [cd]

Thollem: Worlds in a Life, Two (2024, ESP-Disk): Pianist, goes by first name, last name is McDonas, nominally a solo album, but draws on samples from previous albums, so side credits for William Parker (bass), Michael Wimberly (drums), Pauline Oliveros (MIDI accordion), Terry Riley (vocals), Nels Cline (guitar, effects, Mega mouth). B+(**) [cd]