Essential New Music: William Parker Quartets’ “Meditation/ Resurrection”

Musician, composer, improviser, bandleader, mystic and raconteur William Parker has got so much going on that a mere double CD feels like a restricted representation of his talents. But from restriction comes focus, and this pair of performances from two of his standing bands (William Parker Quartet and In Order To Survive) brings his knack for setting involving musical processes in motion. Parker’s tunes are not that elaborate, but they are elastic, able to push way out in some direction and then snap back into shape. This enables each musician to take the whole group with him as he elaborates upon some idea proposed by the composition. Both bands include drummer Hamid Drake and alto saxophonist Rob Brown; In Order To Survive gains bulk and force from pianist Cooper-Moore, while trumpeter Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson’s quicksilver fluency contributes to the Quartet’s relative lightness of tone. Each group uses the last half-century of jazz as a framework to launch long, exploratory forays.

Bill Meyer