A Darker Shade Of Blue
Review by Michael G. Nastos:
Bassist William Parker‘s survival techniques demand liberty and solos for all. The members of this sextet feed off one another’s energy, filling their collective plate with counterpoint, and expressing music in colors and feelings spontaneously derived from thematic motifs. Parker, a phenomenal theoretical and technical improviser, has pianist Cooper Moore, drummer Denis Charles, trumpeter Lewis Barnes, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, and alto saxophonist Rob Brown in tow. Three of these pieces were recorded live at Club Roulette in N.Y.C., the fourth at the Knitting Factory. Clocking in at nearly 40 minutes, “Testimony of No Future” develops from the piano-bass-drums trio’s bop swing rhythms that set up a three-note pattern that the horns then state and extrapolate on with counterpoint. This leads into extended solo fare from everyone — simple and direct, easy to follow, yet dense and saturated. The beautiful “Anast in Crisis, Mouth Full of Fresh Cut Flowers” has Moore‘s spiritual lines influencing Brown‘s alto greatly, with Moncur chiming in for a lucid, free association for seven minutes, again based on three notes. “Testimony of the Stir Pot” has thematic nuances that grow subtler over 20 minutes while horn lines flow parallel to Moore‘s lightning-quick runs. “The Square Sun,” from the Knitting Factory session, features Barnes‘ rubato-style trumpet (which shows his unique blend of jazz past and present); Moore‘s haunting, dancing figures; percussionist Jackson Krall‘s wisp-of-smoke accents; and Parker‘s mouse-squeak bowed bass. Some tour de force music is found here, which makes one wonder if these performances wouldn’t have yielded another CD or three from this band of extraordinary avant-gardists. Highly recommended for those who take their freedoms seriously.
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