Bass God - Wiliam Parker


Parker is a huge deal in the NY "downtown" world. I first got hooked on his modern big band The Little Huey Creative Orchestra ("Mayor of Punkville" is a killing record).
I saw this on youtube.... in four parts, there' a set of solo bass.

That's (even more like) it! I love Little Huey. I didn't see that on youtube at all. Maybe I was just too focused on finding a "bass god"-themed post.

Of course that's pretty damn noisy, but it's very much in a tradition of trains or traffic sounds in the theme. Think of Clifford Brown & Max Roach, "Parisian Thoroughfare", for one.

Some Little Huey records have vocals I can do without (a la The Sharrocks or Sun Ra or.... lots folks) but even those usually it's just a tune or two amidst awesome instrumentals. But he's a modern master -- great bassist, really great composer and arranger, and a good sense of democratic/collective improvisation and picking the right band members.

Not for everybody, but.... if you're familiar with Mingus and Ellington and maybe some of the more "in the tradition" Sun Ra, nothing'll be very shocking. Which is to say, you nailed it. He's on a record with Kidd Jordan ("The All-Star Game" I think?) that along with a couple of David S. Ware things was some of my favorite of the small-band, recent "avant"-jazz.

ANd damn... David S. Ware died recently, and I meant to do some sort of write up and posts. Totally got involved in other things....

Sound quality is lame, but here's a good visual -- this stuff is just so raucous and fun, live:

Just a fragment, really, in duo with drummer Hamid Drake.

Parker was also in Matthew Shipp's trio, with another killing drummer named Guillermo Brown. I'll give all this time to sink in before posting yet another thing that "out" though. This duo snippet with Drake is at least Groovy As F&ck, and entirely too short and sweet.

What a groove monster! The Little Huey stuff really cooks, I can feel the Mingus.

You guys bring out the WORDY asshole in me, lemme tell ya. (Of course you know that's not difficult).

A few things I'll say in response...
Yeah, that riff with the bells -- sick. He says something about a "healing ceremony" to start, and I end up hearing the bells as some incantatory, Native American Shamanic-type thing and don't see them as "jingle bells" at all. The music gets more interesting after he puts the bells down at around three-and-a-half minutes. THEN... and THEN.... -- and maybe it's just almost Christmas-time and I'm hearing things -- but at just about exactly the eight-minute mark, he plays this little rhythmic figure that I could swear is just the "Hurry up, Hurry up, Hurry up, Let's go!!" part of jingle bells. Repeats it. Then almost repeats it again. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up let's go??? Motherfucker!

There are several clips on youtube from a show Parker did, with larger forces, all Curtis Mayfield tunes. Sounds like heaven to me... and then... all the vocals annoy the hell out of me. So I have a hard time listening. (It makes me wish Mayfield wasn't such a good singer!)

I find way too much on youtube that's marred by (to me) really annoying vocals. And that's true of various of the other (non-Mayfield) Parker clips on youtube, too.

On DasBeaver's comments -- I'll re-quote: "What a groove monster! The Little Huey stuff really cooks, I can feel the Mingus." Fuckyeahz! And notice on the live little clip, at 0:24 and again 0:38 and again 0:51 and then just clipped off at the end... is that a rhythmic quote from the most exciting moments of Mingus' "Haitiain Fight Song" (from just before the first trumpet YAWP in the Mingus)?? Or am I imagining that?? Anyway, more than just the bass -- and with the hat and beard Parker LOOKS more like Monk, and his name is PARKER -- but more than than just the bass, his music has the YAWP that Mingus' music does. And it moves from the most contemplative to the most raucous in the same way, to my ear.

Some time back in the early 90s I had a radio show on the college station for Vanderbilt University. I remember this beautiful (really beautiful) lady who had a show before mine. Damn, Nicole Theriot, wherever you are I thought you were pretty. (Smelled like a lot of sandalwood. And now I'm digressing even farther. Sorry. Bringing it back in)... I announced some tune or other some tune with Parker, and she said "My sister is dating that guy!" New York girl. Not much of a jazz listener, herself, IIRC. I loved Parker before that. I still like sandalwood, though. And I'm glad it wasn't patchouli. Which is really the point. I guess.

Moving on... or not... the Disney movie "Oliver Twist" traumatized me as a kid. Particlarly that "please sir..." scene. DAMMIT Hugo, I need to go pay a therapist again. I though that was a freaking' horror movie. Am I digressing again?... Sorry. Ahem. The point? Oh yeah. The point is that I'm not aware of much more. I'm aware of a Matthew Shipp trio clip with Parker and Guillermo Brown. Which I mentioned. Where I thought Parker/Brown was killing. I'll go find it. Thanks for putting up with me. Except those of you who didn't, but you haven't read this far. So no thanks to you if you're not reading this.

Anyway... Hugo wanted MOAR... and I'm not sure many others would be willing to hang. But here's an (almost) hour-long set of the the ridiculously great Matthew Shipp. With Parker on bass. (And with DJ Spooky on turntables et al, and the great Guillermo Brown on drums).

Above -- I imagine there's the unheard interviewer's question to DJ Spooky about his role in what is otherwise a "traditional" acoustic jazz combo. And that gives rise to the section: "Everything is quotation. Even your... y'your DNA, you know. Th-The particles that make up your body, you know, you're a quotation of your parents. Hahah!-huh.. Uh... everyone is kind of an extension of the basic ideas and structures ... that ... they come come from... so... um, DJing just externalizes that, and makes a... a ... a game of memory... you know... see how you recall things...."

Then starting at 10:03, we have Spooky show what an improvising DJ can do. And especially Brown but also Shipp and Parker are of course necessary and awesome in that section leading into Shipp's big solo. (Which is not a solo but a group imrov, too, it turns out).

(Side point -- DJ Logic is the other turntablist who is really good and original in this sort of setting, but that's another set of posts).

Parker? This is a Parker thread, right? The focus of the group improv moves to the bass at around 13:50. But Parker throughout, and his work with Brown, is a marvel.

This stuff gets more "accessible" and supremely groovy at several points. I'll point out around 16:35 for one (but start a minute before that just so hear the lead-in, if you're going to get that far).

And that brings me to the other thread I should have started a while back, on sax player, Davis S. Ware (R.I.P). I have to write something. Shipp/Brown/Parker were the other guys in David S. Ware's band for a while. Some really intensely moving stuff, there. Another thread, soon.

So check out that Matthew Shipp vid. With Parker, of course.

And here's another Parker tune (not a video, but music). With the drum weirdo/genius, Susie Ibarra, in part. Another "ancient to the future" moment, called "In Order To Survive":

Wow you got DEEP into that show! Good for you. It's really rewarding, isn't it??

Less than 15 minutes to go. And like the first 40, there are too many great moments to share. But what you are getting to starts with.... a drum solo, at first mostly on turntables. And just when you start to wonder if Brown's thinking: "how come he gets a drum solo and I'm the drummer?".... Brown gives a damn clinic. Like much of my favorite avant-garde, you hear a lot of history in the music, too. Brown sounds like... who? I have no idea whom he grew up listening to, but I get 1920s in his playing. Baby Dodds. Zutty Singleton.

And for a good while, Shipp's "solo" is SHIPP playing a percussionist's role while Brown is playing the more melodic stuff! Or at least... the more filigreed and surprising stuff. But they're so fluid.... Shipp gets quieter but also takes over the less predictable role
And I also hear a lot of rock. Your man William Parker continues to be a god. Check out how GROOVY he is at around 51:00. And a little before.... but here's where Shipp's getting really fractured, having taken over the "solo" role but just going off in 90 direction... rhythmically some of the craziest piano you're gonna hear. And then at 51:31, when this head arrangement clicks in, it's like an exploding sun. Not in a 2012 way. I mean something good.

I liked your encouraging Majic Sam and DasBeaver and.... anyone else to check it out. It's such a long clip (for youtube, historically), that alone is enough to scare folks off. And I admit that like a lot of free jazz, the sections that meander, that might be a bit of an endurance test for some of us, or for all of us sometimes, even. But this particular show is pretty relentlessly GROOVY for most of it. I think it's some of the most accessible "free jazz" or even, to intense rock fans, some of the most accessible jazz, period. Anyway, I think it's mostly just exhilarating. One of the best things I've ever seen on youtube.