William Parker Quartet - "Sound Unity", Aum Fidelity

David S. Ware Quartets - "Live in The World", Thirsty Ear

These two new releases present the growth and development of the William Parker - David S. Ware axis.
First up is a stunning new record from William Parker's new quartet. Recorded last year in Canada [Vancouver and Montreal], "Sound Unity" represents a new phase in Parker's quartet, as he assembles a stellar cast of players willing to take the plunge with him. Along with Parker on bass, we have his long-time collaborator saxophonist Rob Brown, percussionist Hamid Drake and a new-comer, trumpeter Lewis Barnes. This time around, William Parker decides to favour the long-form composition; something which he's explored before quite effectively. The pacing of the pieces is fairly even. There are no overt solos or climaxing and furious moments to take you by surprise. Rob Brown's alto playing is very angular, though very accessible to the ears. Lewis Barnes trumpet playing is marvelously up-lifting as he spirals around Rob Brown's alto winds. Hamid Drake is as precise and delicate as always. His percussive work is very high spirited and he doesn't shy away from making a statement when one is needed [even when he's allowed a drum solo]. Finally, we come to William Parker who keeps the whole ship at bay. The bass playing is perhaps not as fat as I'm used to hearing from the man, but he still has the intensity and the drive. This music is rich and it begs to be heard. It's safe to call "Sound Unity" another crucial statement from the man named William Parker.

What is the fairest way to talk about the new 3 CD live set from David S. Ware "Live in The World"? Should I mention the fact that this is a monumental release outlining the work of three of his important quartets? Should I mention the fact this it spans the time period of 1998 to 2003? Should I mention the fact that one entire record is committed to an interpretation of Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite" [if you liked the Aum Fidelity issue of the suite, then wait until you hear the live version!]. Should I mention superlatives about each individual percussionist from each CD [Susie Ibarra, Hamid Drake and Guillermo E. Brown each get credits on individual CDs]? The music is blaring and passionately presented. Though I may have my preferences for Ware's percussionists, I still think Whit Dickey was good, and this time around I'll favour Hamid Drake for being his own articulate self [to be honest, all 3 drummers are equally good and shine]. The standard piano - bass axis of Matthew Shipp and William Parker is as tight and disciplined as ever. In fact the other day, I was watching "In Motion" – a documentary on David S. Ware's life his trials and tribulations of being a taxi driver, while maintaining his faith for music. What struck me the most is this man has not changed. He is just as committed and passionate about his music and the ways and means he presents it to the world. Superbly recorded and brilliantly realized. A big round of kudos goes out to Thirst Ear for seeing this project to its fruition!

Tom Sekowski

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