William Parker/Raining on the Moon
Corn Meal Dance (AUM Fidelity)William Parker's Raining on the Moon project is a strangely compelling beast. Parker, an enormously creative avant-garde bassist, composer, and bandleader, recorded an album in 2001 called "Raining on the Moon," which featured his excellent quartet - himself plus drummer Hamid Drake, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, and trumpeter Lewis Barnes - along with the mesmerizing vocalist Leena Conquest. Now he has turned the group into a sextet by adding pianist Eri Yamamoto and has recorded a sequel, "Corn Meal Dance." The music is both fascinating and spiritually lifting; everybody works in tandem, and yet things fly off the shelf when Parker's tight folk-jazz melodies evolve into all-out free exchanges. The poem-form stories burn images in the mind, such as the imagined conversation about a slave and a landowner that ends, "You're only three-fifths of a man/ You can't own no land." Unexpected beauty and tenderness arrive in an ode to the poet June Jordan, performed as a voice-piano duet. It sends shivers. [Steve Greenlee]
ESSENTIAL "Poem for June Jordan"
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