Friday, September 12, 2008

William Parker - Double Sunrise Over Neptune (AUM Fidelity, 2008)

For this special occasion, a live recording at last year's Vision Festival, bassist and composer William Parker actually leaves his regular instrument behind on this recording in favor of reed instruments and conducting a large ensemble that includes Lewis Barnes on trumpet, Rob Brown on alto saxophone, Sabir Mateen on tenor saxophone among many others. The real key to the recording is the extraordinary Indian vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay who sings lyrics and wordless vocals that are the focal point of this fascinating recording. Parker's goal for this project was to bring together musicians from all over the world in search for "universal tonality" and for the most part they succeed quite well. There are three very long performances, each of which allow the musicians to develop an ever shifting backdrop for Bandyopadhyay's vocal improvisations. The range of her voice allows her to act almost as another wind instrument, whether singing in front of the group or improvising collectively with them. The band is excellent as well, with Brown and Mateen playing some intertwined hair raising saxophone on the epic "Neptune's Mirror" and Hamid Drake and Gerald Cleaver providing massive percussive accompaniment. I thought that this turned out very well and was a very successful recording. Because there are so many elements involved in the music, it makes sense that there were difficulties bringing it all together. Those problems were worth it however, and this is a very interesting amalgam of jazz and music from all over the world.

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